The Brief – GreenKo in Germany

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

The resignation of Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Andrea Nahles reaches way beyond the boundaries of German social democracy. It strips bare the German political landscape as we got to know it.

Ever since the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany after WWII, the two largest parties, or ‘Volkspartei’, the CDU and SPD, laid the ground of the German political landscape. Depending on the elections, they would alternate, build a coalition and name a chancellor.

“In Germany’s consensus-oriented political system, governing in coalitions is a matter of course,” political analyst Arne Jungjohann wrote in his recently released study “German Greens in coalition governments.”

And the German Greens make no exception. The erosion of the classic boundaries between the left and right camp makes the development in the federal states particularly interesting for coalition research, Jungjohann continued, meaning it has left the door open for smaller parties such as the German Greens to build up their forces.

Which they successfully did, as we now come to understand it. Thanks to the coalition-building process, the German Greens have succeeded in taking over governmental responsibility in the majority of the 16 German federal states, Jungjohann also writes.

The Greens are in ten state governments in seven varying coalition constellations, the political analyst pointed out.

In four cases, the Greens are governing with Social Democrats in a classic red-green coalition, the former centre-left coalition of choice of both parties and their electorates. In two cases, the Greens entered into a coalition with the Christian Democrats.

That means the Green party has gone beyond only promoting its own political agenda, they have long entered a role in which they take responsibility, with the Greens also to be found in numerous city councils.

In other words, German voters have had the opportunity over the past decade or so to experience what it means to deal with Greens representatives at the local and regional levels. Now, for the first time, the possibility is there for the Greens to have a crack at naming their own Chancellor.

What seemed like an illusion before, all of a sudden became a possibility after Andreas Nahles’ resignation.

Indeed, what is to happen should it actually come to early parliamentary elections this year, as is already rumoured? Neither the SPD nor the CDU/CSU currently have a majority, nor a convincing top staff. And neither party has an electoral programme that offers answers to citizens’ current concerns.

The Roundup

By Alexandra Brzozowski

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has urged member states not to name short-term replacements for the Commissioners that have been elected as MEPs, insisting there is not enough work for 28 Commissioners anyway.

Britain will roll out the red carpet for US President Donald Trump as he arrives in Britain for a state visit already overshadowed by his outspoken remarks on Brexit.

Moldova, a blind spot on the European map for the past years, is expected to receive three high-level officials, including Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, amid signs that the country’s nascent government could lean more towards Russia than the West.

Austria’s expert government is now in place. Now the question arises: When should a new government be elected? Meanwhile, Germany’s Social Democrats are in shambles after their leader resigned.

The French Ministry of Economy wants to change competition practices and trade policy in Europe. Its proposals also aim to tackle new digital conglomerates.

A near tragedy in Venice has once again shown how Italy’s co-ruling parties are more and more at loggerheads after last week’s EU elections shifted the government’s balance of powers towards Matteo Salvini’s far-right Lega party.

Election results on either side of the Alps have further complicated an already complex and controversial railway project between France and Italy, as political allegiances and support for the tunnel have shifted.

Greece’s conservative opposition swept local elections, winning in nearly all regions and the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki, routing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s ruling left five weeks before they face off in general elections.

Police in the Albanian capital Tirana fired tear gas and water cannon at demonstrators demanding the resignation of socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Council President Donald Tusk did a tour of three Central Asia countries last week, including Tajikistan, where the melting Pamir Glaciers illustrate the impact of climate change and the difficulties of water management in this part of the world.

Look out for…

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker receives Romanian PM Viorica Dăncilă and North Macedonia’s PM Zoran Zaev, while NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg meets Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda in Brussels.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski and Zoran Radosavljevic]

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