Dispute over ministerial offices: post-chatters overshadowed traffic light start of the Greens

Dispute over ministerial offices
Posten-Geschacher overshadows the start of the traffic light of the Greens

From Sebastian Huld

The traffic light is negotiating a coalition agreement silently to the outside world. But the distribution of the ministries then puts the Greens in need. The special sensitivities in the party make for a tangible Zoff. It cannot be hidden either – and could only be the beginning.

Actually, this date should have been a more solemn one: the Greens executive committee and the representatives of the state parties wanted to discuss the coalition agreement agreed with the SPD and FDP on Thursday afternoon. But: “Euphoria, happiness, enthusiasm: I haven’t noticed that anywhere,” said Chairman and upcoming Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck about the mood among his party’s negotiators. What is meant is that the Greens have to take over the federal government in the middle of the fourth wave of the corona pandemic. But the concern about the extent of the crisis is only one aspect that depresses the mood of the Greens this Thursday. The other is a real personnel dispute.

The Greens negotiated five cabinet positions. In addition, the office of state minister for culture and several state secretaries as well as the right to nominate an EU commissioner should Commission President Ursula von der Leyen not continue. But it is unclear who will get one of the coveted ministerial posts in addition to the chairmen Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck. The presentation announced for the federal-state council about who should fill the ministries of agriculture, family and the environment has been postponed; first for the evening, then for tomorrow.

Man, woman, real, left – a complicated arithmetic

As ntv.de found out, the party executive had proposed that Cem Özdemir be made Minister of Agriculture. The Rhineland-Palatinate Environment Minister Anne Spiegel, who was also Minister for Families in the country, should become Federal Minister for Families. The Ministry of the Environment should go to Steffi Lemke. Other media had previously reported this. That would mean the two parliamentary group leaders, Anton Hofreiter and Katrin Göring-Eckardt, out of the cabinet.

For Hofreiter (r.) Party leader Habeck has no office in the new government.

(Photo: dpa)

The Hofreiter personality comes as a surprise: The Bavarian, who is popular in the party, is a representative of the left wing and, in terms of specialist policy, fits in better with the Ministry of Agriculture than the transport politician Cem Özdemir. However, the transport department that Özdemir had hoped for is occupied by the FDP. Apparently it is important for the party leadership to involve the successful politician Özdemir, who is the only one in the series of trafficked migration history, into the next cabinet. Özdemir also won his constituency directly with an outstanding result.

However, after Baerbock and Habeck, Özdemir would be the third realo in one of the five ministerial posts. There were still two posts left for the party left, but they would have to be filled with women. The party logic excludes more male than female ministers. In addition, a cabinet with equal representation would not be feasible if the Greens, like the FDP, have more men than women. So the left could not enforce Hofreiter. Göring-Eckardt is real, but could become Bundestag Vice-President if the previous Vice-President Claudia Roth – according to the party leadership’s proposal – became Minister of State for Culture. The personnel proposal met with fierce opposition from the party left.

In the late afternoon, the list of suggestions could therefore be out of date again. The party council does not meet again until the evening to find a solution. The previous logic of representation is up for debate, ntv.de learned. Accordingly, the Greens could either bring themselves to nominate only two women. Then the cabinet would not have equal representation. Or the Realo wing asserts itself against the left. Then the Greens would start their second government participation in the federal government, heavily burdened within the party.

Return of an old conflict

Already throughout the day, telephone conferences and small-group conversations were what was happening at the Greens. A discussion round scheduled for the morning between Baerbock and Habeck and journalists had already been postponed – apparently due to the need for internal party discussions.

The federal-state round in the afternoon in Berlin’s Westhafen also began with a delay. Finally, Federal Managing Director Michael Kellner announced that there would be further “consultations”. Waiter did not deny inquiries whether this was about wing disputes.

When Habeck finally stepped onto the podium, he had to inform the party members that they would not find out until Friday morning who, besides him and Baerbock, would receive ministerial posts – which is why the start of the vote among the 125,000 party members on the coalition agreement was delayed by one day.

For Habeck and Baerbock, who were committed to uniting the party and pacifying traditional wing disputes, the return of this conflict is a serious crisis. Especially since the quarrel does not end on the ministerial question. Habeck and Baerbock have to and want to hand over the chairmanship of the party. Their successors must be regulated as well as any new appointments to the posts of Hofreiter or Göring-Eckardt at the top of the parliamentary group – in the worst case even both. If the post wrestling in the government ends in a dispute, further personal conflicts are created. So an overall solution must be found.

While the party argues over personnel, there are no substantive debates on the coalition agreement. The speakers at the Bund-Länder-Rat, almost all of whom were involved in the negotiations, praised the results and emphasized the successes of the Greens. Nobody recommended voting against the coalition agreement. This is the good news for Habeck and Baerbock: No matter how the item goes, the party members will probably give the traffic light the green light

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