Friday October 22, 2021
Baerbock and Lindner at Illner
When it comes to money, the coalitionists remain vague
By Marko Schlichting
The SPD, FDP and the Greens have started their coalition negotiations, and on St. Nicholas Day Olaf Scholz could be elected as the new Federal Chancellor. At Maybrit Illner, Baerbock and Lindner are two important figures in the planned government – and one who has to get used to the role of the opposition.
The coalition negotiations are going to be tough and they should be over much sooner than four years ago. It took almost half a year. On Thursday, representatives of the SPD, FDP and the Greens first met to set the timetable for the talks. In the end, Olaf Scholz should be elected Federal Chancellor. “The goal must be for a government to be in office during St. Nicholas Week,” said FDP leader Christian Lindner on Thursday evening on the ZDF program Maybrit Illner. There, in addition to Lindner, among others, the Greens co-chair Annalena Baerbock and the CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen discuss the problems that still need to be solved.
“Things must finally be tackled.”
“The negotiators approached the matter very skilfully,” says political scientist Herfried Münkler. The existing rifts, especially between the Greens and the FDP, were bridged by finding a narrative for a project that could be said to be wide-ranging and with prospects for the longest possible period.
Lindner names the goal, Baerbock the way to get there. “The conversion of a social into a socio-ecological market economy,” said the FDP chairman. “There shouldn’t be so much babbling anymore,” says the Greens boss. “Things must finally be tackled.” The question of finance is likely to be the most difficult. There is already a solution when it comes to pensions, says Baerbock. In fact, during their exploratory talks, the future traffic light coalition agreed that the pension scheme should receive 10 billion euros from the budget next year. In addition, it can invest its reserves “regulated” on the capital market – an entry into the share pension that the FDP had called for in the election campaign.
In addition, the possible new federal government wants to take money in hand to finance the restructuring of industry, climate protection or digitization. Baerbock assumes an annual 50 to 60 billion euros, according to FDP boss Lindner that will not be enough. “Of course the demands are high,” said Baerbock. “But if we don’t change things radically, we will not be able to cope with the project of the century to create climate-neutral prosperity.”
Most important topic in coalition negotiations
It is not yet clear where this money will come from. Lindner relies on being able to mobilize private capital as well, and nothing else will be left to a traffic light, because the FDP has declared tax increases a taboo. The debt brake should also be adhered to. The limit will not apply again until 2023, so that the federal government could create a soft cushion for itself with new loans next year. But Lindner also excludes that, since the suspension of the debt brake was due to the corona and has nothing to do with the long-term plans of the future coalition.
“There is still no medium-term financial plan,” says Lindner. How it will go on cannot be said. One does not yet know how high the loans are that can be taken out despite the debt brake. That depends on the economic development.
Lindner’s aim is to bring the economy forward. “A prosperous economy makes more resources available to the state,” he explains. Or: the more companies earn, the more taxes they have to pay.
The FDP boss also wants to spend money that the last federal budget made available, but which could not yet be accessed. This has to do with planning and approval procedures that are too bureaucratic. Especially when it comes to planning, including wind turbines and power lines, everything should go faster in the future. In addition, Lindner wants to cut subsidies. And finally there are private investors such as life insurers whose money can be mobilized. “In Germany there are billions of euros of private capital that cannot be used.”
For Norbert Röttgen it is clear: “Governing in the next few years will be tough.” 470 billion euros in corona debts would have to be repaid, and the damage caused by the flood disaster would also have to be paid off. He has no suggestions on how to do this. After all, the Union is in the process of preparing for the opposition.
“Don’t lose anymore in small and small”
This is the notch that Baerbock proposes: The traffic light wants to do it differently than the previous federal government, which has always only formulated goals for climate protection, but no measures. “We no longer say what we want, but also how.” During the explorations, it was agreed that, ideally, the coal-fired power generation would be phased out in 2030. The old federal government decided not to examine how far it would have come until 2026. But then the coming government would no longer be in office. “We preferred that, we want to tackle it,” says Baerbock, who also defends herself against Röttgen’s accusation that the FDP was able to push through more than the Greens in the explorations. She also refers to the phase-out of the internal combustion engine by 2030. “We have to act strategically so that the automotive industry already knows that it has to rebuild its plants.”
Less than a week before the continuation of the coalition talks, the Illner talk show shows two things: There are two politicians from very different parties who are trying hard to talk to each other and who want to create something new. And there is a CDU politician who says that his party has come to terms with the role of the opposition. But, like forming a coalition, parting with a government is obviously something that is not that easy.