Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Explaining the German Bundestag Coalition Business

For an American, once an election is finished....there's nothing left to discuss. Germany....that silly election business is just half the battle.  After an election....if you don't have fifty percent control of the Bundestag build a coalition.

For years and came and went, and there were easy coalitions and hard coalitions.  The head party with the victory....tends to sit down and invite the best of the better-than-five-percent groups to meet with them.  There's roughly three topics.

First, can there be some basic agreement on energy, labor, economics, and the environment?

Second, what cabinet posts would be offered for the partner?

Third, can the partner prove that they will have support of their folks.....when the fight is on in the support the winner-party?

All of this discussion usually leads onto man-hours of conversation, political BSing, and angry hostile folks who feel that a partnership is a terrible thing.

The winner party has around sixty days to iron out this partnership.  If they can't do it....they have two options.

Option one: proceed ahead as a minority in the Bundestag and hope that things go their way (it rarely if ever works).  This idea usually invites another election within a year or two....or upsets the nation because of stagnant activity.

Option two: call for another election (sixty days down the road after you admit partners can't be found).

Option two in this case is an interesting episode.  Most folks who voted for the anti-
Euro party and the FDP.....would view this current mess as a sign to stick with the CDU, period.  You might see another five percent of the national voting go toward Chancellor Merkel.  Of course, you might wound up with still forty-eight percent of the Bundestag vote, and still need a partnership with someone.

For the Greens?  They could see some of their voters slip over to the SPD because of some views on lack of a partnership.

The hidden factor?  The Linke Party.  The Linke folks are considered poison by bulk of German voters.  Most folks don't want them as the partners of a SPD or CDU government, period.  No exceptions is usually the comment by most folks.  The problem is that they tend to pull around ten percent of the national vote and they simply sit there as a party that can never be a partner in any coalition.  It's a problem.....kinda having the Nazi party in existence but saying you just can't partner with them for obvious reasons.

For the next days....I would suspect that the CDU will humor the SPD with various offers.  Three or four of the cabinet posts.....maybe an agreement on sixty percent of the platform issues.  The SPD will hint of half ownership of the cabinet posts, and an extremely hard lean toward three of their major party platforms.  The CDU really doesn't want to give up that much in return.

The Greens?  The radical side of their leadership absolutely doesn't want a partnership at all.  They'd have to dump half their values, and insult the radial players of the party.  Most are likely shocked they got eight percent of the national vote, and don't care if they ever partner with anyone.  Its the principal that matters, in their minds.

But the Greens will likely be offered a fair amount of hope for the next four years.  Figure four cabinet posts, and the continued anti-nuclear energy agreement that the CDU has in's not exactly a bad deal.

For an American, it's tough to watch this agreement business go back and forth.  It'd never work in the US Senate, and US journalists would go into fits if the Republicans and Democrats had to be fairly agreeable after an election.  I think for this reason....the two major German parties are more careful about insults during the heat of an election.  Maybe that's a positive.

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