VA year ago, the SPD, Greens and FDP formulated their coalition agreement in anticipation of a decent upswing after difficult pandemic years. The social and climate chapters, which were characterized by red and green wishes, were correspondingly lavish, while the FDP decided to return to solid state finances and modernize the infrastructure.
Just three months later, Russia’s attack on Ukraine triggered the dramatic security and energy crisis that has dominated the traffic light agenda ever since. For the time being, the coalition will only be measured by how well it manages to allay the concerns of private households and companies about energy shortages and unaffordable energy bills.
In this respect, the chancellor in the general debate on the 2023 federal budget offered the opposition little room for attack. Olaf Scholz scored with two simple statements: Germany’s energy security was “well guaranteed” for this winter and the assurance that the increase in energy prices would be reduced “to a bearable level”. The filling levels of the memory and the cornucopia of bulky aid programs that have already been distributed or are about to be adopted provide credible evidence of his words.
For the SPD, the crisis has the nice side effect that their social projects, which are also expensive for companies – 12 euros minimum wage, lavish housing benefit reform, citizen benefit – appear to the Union as a necessary part of the stabilization that is now required. For the Greens, the crisis is building a bridge to the reality of energy policy, in which nuclear power is not yet superfluous and renewables are nowhere near as far as they would have us believe. The FDP, in turn, can count on understanding that it will take longer to get rid of debt, and hope that it will go unnoticed how little success their digital minister has to show.
Once the worst is over, however, citizens will no longer accept the omissions and currently unavoidable loss of prosperity. After the crisis, they will quickly ask how solid Germany really is as a location with the traffic light policy. The coalition still has to work on convincing answers.