Chancellor Angela Merkel can continue governing in a grand coalition with the SPD – but her party is paying a high price. Because the Social Democrats are getting comparatively much power in the new government. Criticism is growing in Merkel’s CDU.
The coalition agreement has been signed, the ministries are distributed – and the grand coalition can come. “Fair enough”, CSU leader Seehofer said on Wednesday about the agreement between the Union parties and the SPD. But some in the CDU/CSU think: It’s not alright at all.
For in the poker for the cabinet positions in a black-red federal government, the SPD is considered the winner – after all, the Social Democrats won the key ministries of foreign affairs and finance, as well as the ministries of labor and social affairs. The Ministry of Finance, of all ministries, has been led over the last eight years by CDU veteran Wolfgang Schäuble, who has enjoyed a consistently high reputation among the population. Now the department is to go to Hamburg’s mayor Olaf Scholz of the SPD – if the coalition agreement is approved by the members of the party.
Shortly after the agreement on forming a coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD, the CDU promptly voiced criticism, especially from the party’s Economic Council, which dislikes the distribution of ministries. Concerns that the Social Democrats aren’t good at handling money are articulated more or less clearly. “With the social and family ministries, two of the most expensive ministries go to the SPD,” said Werner M. Bahlsen, president of the committee, to the German Press Agency. “The fact that the SPD will also be given the key finance department will put an end to solid budgetary policy.”
Decent deal for SPD considering election result
The Secretary General of the Economic Council, Wolfgang Steiger, went even further: “The distribution of departments in no way reflects the election result”, he criticised on Wednesday – the results of the negotiations between the two parties had just become public. The SPD had won 20.5 percent of the votes in last autumn’s federal elections, CDU and CSU together 33 percent.
Paul Ziemiak, head of the Young Union, called on the CDU/CSU parties to be vigilant about the future SPD-led finance ministry. Ziemiak said that the coalition agreement was a good compromise with which the CDU/CSU could live. “Nevertheless, we must be very vigilant over the next few years when it comes to generational policies and stable budget policies – especially if the SPD provides the finance minister.”
On Wednesday, CDU leader Angela Merkel had tried to dispel unease in the CDU/CSU faction about the loss of the finance ministry. According to statements from participants, the Chancellor said that she knew that the transfer of the finance ministry to the SPD was causing many worries. However, she pointed out the great importance of the Bundestag in budget matters. During the debate, CDU/CSU members expressed their concern that the future SPD-led finance department could stray from the course of stability in European policy matters.
Merkel could now be elected Chancellor for the fourth time. But nothing is certain yet: the 463,000 SPD members have the last word. They will vote on the coalition agreement from February 20 to March 2. The Jusos (SPD youth organisation) will start their no-campaign on Friday, the party leadership wants to advertise for the coalition agreement next week.
Whether Horst Seehofer – in the planned new Federal Government as Minister of the Interior with the new responsibility “Homeland Affairs” – is right with his statement “Passt scho” (“Fair enough”)? The dispute is far from over.