“Not eaten the biscuit for a long time”: the day that makes the traffic light tangible

Will Lindner go with the Greens? Or does he shoot across? The day of the decision on three-party talks to form a government turns out to be extremely exciting because the FDP and the Greens staged it together. Apparently, the following still applies: “We are family”.

The distance must be chosen deliberately: The FDP let more than an hour pass after the Greens publicly suggested that they now go into exploratory talks with the SPD. An hour that is used intensively on Twitter and by political observers to speculate about whether the so-called “citrus coalition” – made of yellow lemons and green limes – could be wasted again.

Will it go back to power poker in the end, just a week after a nocturnal selfie and expressed willingness to build bridges? Do the Greens see their few percentage points more in the result of the federal election as legitimation to be the first to make an announcement in order to put the liberals under maximum pressure? Why don’t both parties make a joint statement? What if the Liberals advocate parallel talks with the SPD and the Union? Was it that with “We are family”?

According to Annalena Baerbock, Greens co-leader, they had come to the conclusion that it would make more sense to speak to the FDP and SPD in greater depth – “especially with a view to the similarities that we were able to identify in these bilateral talks.” it was formulated in the press conference at 10 a.m. “And that’s what we propose to the FDP.”

From the point of view of the Greens, according to her colleague Robert Habeck, the greatest intersections are conceivable in a traffic light, especially in social politics. “Conceivable, however, expressly means that the biscuit is a long way from being eaten.” There are still many open points and also differences. Now questions that are ideologically divisive have to be clarified and pre-discussed in such a stable manner that one gets a good feeling for a possible coalition agreement.

“Bring our country forward”

The aforementioned speculation on the Internet about possible power games followed the Greens declaration and then, with a 20-minute delay, finally: Lindner’s appearance. Within a few minutes and with just as few sentences, the FDP boss clears everything that was previously spotted. Christian Lindner explains that his party has accepted the proposal for a joint discussion with the SPD, “in order to examine commonalities that will bring our country forward”. He suggested to SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz that there should be a three-person meeting on Thursday, “and this will happen”.

This sentence is one of the moments in which the careful staging of today’s decision shines through: The Greens have pushed ahead with their desire to sound out a traffic light coalition, but have not yet addressed the SPD, but rather passed the ball over to the FDP . Now it is up to Lindner to give this proposal its go and to signal to Olaf Scholz “in consultation with the Greens”: So we do, we have nothing more to do tomorrow.

So both smaller exploratory partners have their appearance, their breaking news, the full attention in the reporting. Liberals and Greens – despite declared and obvious differences on important points of view – harmonize in their public appearance. The CDU and CSU are clearly different as sister parties.

Markus Söder, chairman of the Christsozialen, announces a statement in Munich for 1 p.m. Then CDU boss Armin Laschet from Düsseldorf pushes himself in front of it, a quarter of an hour earlier, makes a statement from the local state parliament. Credo of his short statement: sticking to the Jamaica option. “We have signaled: We are also ready for further discussions,” says Laschet. But the decision as to who to speak to and in what order rests with the FDP and the Greens.

For the Union it is also about “self-respect”

A few minutes later, in Munich, Markus Söder assesses the decision to sound out traffic lights significantly differently, namely as a “de facto rejection of Jamaica”. A traffic light coalition made up of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP is now the “clear number one”. For the Union it is also about “self-respect”, the CDU and CSU could not stand by in a permanent waiting loop. What one emphasizes again as an option is buried by the other a quarter of an hour later. Even after stepping down from the exploratory stage, the chairmen of the Union parties still manage to contradict each other as much as possible.

What is also particularly noticeable on this day is the tension that the Greens and FDP can weave into the morning’s dramaturgy. Baerbock and Habeck submitted. Will Lindner go with you? Does he shoot across? Nobody knows, and that makes this morning crackle. This is only possible because nothing from the party committees that met before, and nothing from possible agreements between the two parties, has leaked out. The public will have to wait for both of them to explain themselves.

The Union, on the other hand, is now well known for having moles in its own ranks. The decision at that time for Armin Laschet as candidate for chancellor, made at a nightly board meeting of the CDU, was accompanied by the media in the live ticker. But even though the CDU and CSU are so burned-out children, last weekend they took part in talks that should decide about their future with a 15-member delegation. And only afterwards, when confidentiality was breached again, does the idea arise that cell phones should be banned from confidential meetings. While the Union has missed the moment to get rid of its trust problem, the FDP and the Greens are apparently effortlessly showing how it can be done.

Friday? Doesn’t fit so well.

Another telling aspect: the signal of “tomorrow”. It was only a few days ago that Liberals and Greens wanted to speak to the Union’s sister parties in individual meetings. But with appointments it became difficult: The CDU wanted to talk to the FDP on Saturday, even before they met with the Social Democrats. But in Bavaria, basic conferences stood in the way. A Stoiber birthday prevented Friday, the CDU reacted with a sniffle, the CSU declared that Thursday had been offered, so it was not up to them that Sunday would only come about now.

A tiring weekday chatter, which in the end conveyed one thing above all else: The Union is at odds, even when it comes to stupid scheduling. What the agreement between the FDP, SPD and the Greens demonstrates today: Three parties want it to start. And when do you meet when you want it to start? Exactly. Morning.

“We have the greatest overlap in terms of content with the Union,” said Christian Lindner in his statement. And then indicates why the Liberals are still not pleading for Jamaica explorations: “The will to govern the government and the unity of the Union parties are being discussed in public”.

For weeks now, the CDU and CSU have been the occasion for exactly such discussions about a lack of unity, including today, the day on which the cameras are possibly even aimed at them for the last time as part of the government’s decision-making process. As of tomorrow, they will no longer play a role in the talks for the time being. And today’s appearance of all parties involved in the preliminary auditions, it suggests that this is possibly the right way of things.

Much of what the liberals and the Greens have succeeded in doing today becomes all the more clear against the background that the Union is currently showing itself to be weak in these aspects in particular. It looks like it was yesterday, sidelined by those who want to form “a kind of progress-friendly center”, as Christian Lindner puts it. “This results in a lot of imagination”, which he always lacked in the election campaign when he thought of a traffic light option. Even if the success of the explorations is far from certain: With the appearance today, the FDP and the Greens underlined: Stirrup holders for the senior partner were yesterday. And we can look forward to tomorrow.

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