This morning, the Green Party leaders have just completed a few hours of their two-day retreat when they announce the most important goals for this year at a press conference. So the Greens are in a hurry. Because from the party’s point of view, a lot has to improve in the traffic light coalition. The government must do more about climate protection in 2023, says Greens leader Ricarda Lang. Convert traffic and agriculture more quickly and force the nationwide phase-out of coal by 2030.
At the end of the SPD retreat on Monday, SPD leader Lars Klingbeil also felt that some things didn’t suit him. After a difficult year with a war in Europe, the coalition motto “dare more progress” must now be addressed more intensively. “We got through this winter well,” says Klingbeil. “But we also have to position ourselves well for the future.”
It can be clearly felt these days how all three coalition partners want to sharpen their own profiles at the beginning of the year. The FDP with the Epiphany meeting in Stuttgart, SPD and Greens with their retreats in Berlin. But it also becomes clear that the traffic light coalition is threatened with another difficult year. Because they all want to tackle – just not the same thing.
Atom: April 15, 2023 is the end date for the three remaining German nuclear power plants. The SPD and the Greens are accommodating with the course of the winter so far: prices are falling, the fear of shortages is diminishing. In the fall, Chancellor Olaf Scholz had to exercise his authority to set guidelines in order to end the dispute over longer maturities. When the last fuel rod has burned down, nuclear power in Germany should be over in less than 100 days. But the FDP is not letting up yet. Your Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, has brought up a commission of experts to critically examine the shutdown again. SPD and Greens, however, have so far let the FDP’s advertising for a further extension roll off. “This debate has been decided,” says SPD leader Lars Klingbeil. “The chancellor’s word applies,” says Green party leader Lang. After all, the SPD and the Greens have a common goal. It is important to bury nuclear power quietly.
Climate and traffic: There is a risk of several collisions here. The coalition is lagging behind its climate goals, especially in the area of transport. The ministry of FDP man Wissing should actually present an “immediate plan” to stop this – that’s what the climate protection law says. So far, however, there is no trace of a real plan. Instead, the FDP wants to defuse the climate law in such a way that other sectors compensate for the deficit. But the Green Minister Robert Habeck watches over this law. And he doesn’t want to know anything about it.
The situation is similar when new motorways and federal roads are built. Wissing would like to speed it up: Following the example of the rules for new liquefied natural gas terminals, the federal government should also declare an “overriding public interest” for many trunk road projects. Green Environment Minister Steffi Lemke is strictly against it. Your problem: The SPD sees it similar to Wissing, the terminal speed is also the new guideline for SPD leader Klingbeil. “We need this new Germany speed for all infrastructure projects,” he says.
Finances: The Jusos have announced that they will apply for a farewell to the debt brake at the SPD federal party conference at the end of 2023. Many social democrats see it as a brake on investment. A wealth tax is also on the SPD’s agenda, poison for the FDP. In order not to turn this internal party conflict into a predetermined breaking point for the coalition, the SPD has now set up a commission of experts. It is clear that climate protection, modernization of the infrastructure and restructuring of industry will devour a lot of tax money, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. The SPD Commission should take care of that. According to the corresponding resolution of the party executive during the exam, your assignment is to “develop a tax and financial policy concept for the main proposal for the federal party conference in 2023.”
It is headed by the chairmen Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil, but the chancellery sends Scholz’s economic advisor Jörg Kukies as a kind of watchdog. For the coalition, the issue is highly sensitive, after all, the finance minister’s name is Christian Lindner and he is the head of the FDP. He just underlined his stance at the epiphany meeting: “A country that wants to get back on the offensive in location competition” does not increase the tax burden, Lindner said. “Such a country reduces the tax burden.”
Tank: The SPD is also getting on the defensive when it comes to military aid for Ukraine. After the green light for the delivery of around 40 marten-Armored personnel carriers to Ukraine also voices loudly that leopard-Want to give up main battle tanks. The Social Democrats have always been more reserved. They want to support Ukraine, that’s the line of approach, but not allow NATO to become a war party. Every step must also be coordinated with the partners. “Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the SPD have been keeping these three promises for almost a year – even with the current deliveries,” advertises the party.
But what does that mean for main battle tanks of the type leopard? SPD boss Klingbeil does not rule out a delivery, but sticks to the conditions. If there is an international alliance, as in the case of the reconnaissance and armored personnel carriers with the USA and France, this taboo can still fall. Ukraine could face the expected Russian spring offensive better this way. All decisions ultimately rest with Scholz, says Klingbeil. Its course is supported “unreservedly”.