May 22, 2022 5:08 am

Signs of the German “traffic light” coalition

The rise of the Ampel-Koalition –traffic light coalition– to the government in Germany generates powerful signals in terms of effective democratic governance. Thus, the process of forming the coalition led by socialist chancellor Olaf Scholz, and identified by the colors of its three member parties –colorado (socialist party: SPD), yellow (liberal party: FDP) and green (green party) – leaves a series of lessons that are relevant even for Argentine democracy.

The first sign is that these parties have the ability to govern in coalitions. Although the Ampel-Koalition is unprecedented in Germany, the participation of its members in German governments is not unprecedented. The SPD is one of the two most important parties in Germany – along with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – and has frequently governed, producing great figures such as Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder. He has done it alone or in coalitions. The FDP has governed in coalition with the socialists during the government of Willy Brandt (1969-1974), with its leader Hans-Dietrich Genscher as minister of the interior. Later, in the government of the socialist Helmut Schmidt (1974-1982), with Genscher as foreign minister and deputy chancellor. And also with the CDU during the government of Helmut Kohl, with Genscher again at the head of the foreign ministry and as vice-chancellor (1982-1992). The Greens governed with the Socialists under Gerhard Schroeder (1998-2005), and their leader Joschka Fischer led foreign relations.

The second sign is that these parties come to government with a considerable level of know-how accumulated knowledge of how to govern effectively. This knowledge lives on in the people and cadres who have governed, with leaders like Schroeder and Fischer still alive and active in opinion. But it is also transmitted through the respected think tanks behind every match

The third sign is the will to act as a true governing coalition. Thus, while the Socialists –who obtained 25.7% of the votes– have 8 ministers out of a total of 17, the Greens –14.8% of the votes– have 5 ministers, and the Liberals –11.5%– they have 4. The green leader, Robert Habeck, will be the deputy chancellor and the minister for economic affairs and climate action, and another green leader, Annalena Baerbock, will be foreign minister. For his part, the leader of the FDP, Christian Lindner, will be the finance minister, a specialty of this party.

The fourth sign is that the government is reached with a common program, tenaciously negotiated between the elections in September and the formation of the government in November. This common program represents a consensus of the three forces around, among other things, the modernization and renewal of Germany, its role in Europe and the world, and action in the climate field at national and international level.

The fifth sign is that this strong democratic system it continues to leave authoritarian parties out of government. Both to the extreme left (Die Linke) –which obtained 4.9% of the vote–, and to the right (AfD) –which obtained 10.3%–.

Perhaps the most powerful signal is to align with what was written by former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt: “Without compromise, the consensus of a majority cannot be achieved.. The principle of compromise is an essential part of representative democracy.

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