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Thread: German Federal Election 2017

  1. #61
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    You need 354 seats - out of 707 - to form a government (or rather, to elect a chancellor*). SPD/FDP/Greens (Traffic Light) would have 299.

    What the FDP has rejected is a Jamaica coalition i.e. CDU/CSU/FDP/Greens. This would have 392 seats and therefore a majority. The FDP's chairman Christian Lindner rejected Jamaica likely out of the marginalization that would come with it; not only would they suffer the voter share squeeze-out that Merkel subjects minority partners to but in addition they'd have to compete with both CSU and Greens over relevant posts and policies. Given they've just reentered parliament* he likely first wants to consolidate the FDP at a sizable voter share, and you can best do that from the opposition bench.

    The FDP dropped below the 5% hurdle in 2013, also got slammed out of state parliaments, and only participates in three state governments right now - CDU/FDP coalition in Northrhine-Westfalia, CDU/Green/FDP in Schleswig-Holstein and SPD/Green/FDP in Rhineland-Palatinate. Compared to the Kingmaker role that the FDP used to have up until ten, fifteen years ago this is an extremely weak and vulnerable position, in particular as CDU/Green coalitions as "another option" have become socially acceptable as well. Some crucial elections in 2018 - e.g. Bavaria in autumn - are places where the FDP wants to keep its current share in surveys in order to gain a Kingmaker role against an opposition bench that now includes the AfD.

    Current surveys btw - as of today - see the SPD slightly stronger than in the election and the FDP and Greens pretty much switching places with the Greens as strong as AfD (at 12%) and the FDP at 8% as the smallest party (short of CSU) in parliament.

    * In the first two rounds. Third election round a traffic light coalition could win with a minority candidate subject to approval from the Federal President.
    Last edited by kato; 15 Jan 18, at 21:33.

  2. #62
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    Kato

    So what's the straight story on what is happening there? Is there a new government? Will there be new elections. Listening to the reports on the radio today I am still confused.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

  3. #63
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    There's no new government.

    Basically, SPD, CDU and CSU in top-level talks have finally found a consensus on forming a Grand Coalition, and have hashed out who would get which ministerial posts and how they would like to govern, what kind of laws the new coalition would want to pass based on each party's preference and so on. The Coalition Treaty Proposal has 177 pages and 8366 lines including which party gets which posts.

    However, on the SPD's side this is highly contested, with the entire left wing of the party against it and the party leadership barely finding a majority for it among themselves. As Schulz has promised it will therefore have to be approved in a caucus among all listed SPD party members (about half a million people, with a cut-off yesterday evening - people who become members after that don't get to vote). This caucus will be held on February 20th to March 2nd, with those people getting the coalition treaty proposal mailed to them and then voting on it.

    Until a new government is formed Federal President Steinmeier has decided to use Article 69 of the constitution, which forces Merkel to continue her previous administration - she can't quit her job unless the President approves. During this time she can't reorganize her cabinet of ministers (or rather: can't take in new ministers, and the President can overrule her on sacking them), the President can remove both her and her cabinet at any time by presenting a chancellor candidate and having the parliament vote on him/her, and - though that's less formally, more convention - laws and bills proposed by the government should not be longterm (hence why e.g. Bundeswehr deployment mandates only got extended by 3 months in January instead of the usual 12-24 months).

    If the SPD member caucus rejects the coalition - and that's not that unlikely, chances are 50/50 - we will probably have new elections about 2-3 months later. There are some other options - e.g. the President could find an independent candidate that finds the approval of the majority of the parliament (... chance: 0%), or the president and parliament could approve a minority government of a candidate that has the support of the largest share of the parliament (very slim chances of that happening).
    In particular the Young Socialists, the SPD youth organization which all party members under 35 are part of are vehemently against it - to the point where the head of the Young Socialists is currently planning a campaign tour against the coalition treaty proposal to start this friday.

    Merkel's CDU is a bit more... traditional. As in authoritative. However, they'll also have a vote on it. Not by all party members, but at least at a party congress - which takes place on February 26th. The Young Union - youth organization of CDU - pretty much forced this against Merkel, it's not something they'd usually do.

  4. #64
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    Regarding posts: The government consists of 14 ministries, the head of chancellery - of minister rank - and is additionally supported by five "state secretaries" in key positions (which aren't part of the government, i.e. don't sit at the cabinet table). In the current, last coalition treaty the CDU holds five, CSU three, SPD six ministers and the head of chancellery is mandated either CDU or CSU. The state secretary post are used to round out numbers between the parties, with the CDU holding three and the SPD two, while the CSU doesn't get any (two of these state secretaries, one each for CDU and SPD, were not mentioned in the coalition treaty).

    Compared to the current government the SPD basically gets the Finance Department and hands the Economics Department over to the CDU. The CSU would get the Interior Department from the CDU and hands over the farmers to the CDU. SPD loses the State Secretary for Migration and Refugees (not a minister) to the CDU but gets the second State Secretary of the Foreign Department from the CDU in return (previously they had only had one of two there). Effectively the numbers therefore stay the same, but the responsibilities would change quite a bit.

    The exact composition of those responsibilities is relatively interesting as they point out just how interested the CDU is in getting the SPD to work with them. With the finance department they're pretty much handing over the one that controls the purse strings of everyone else, and with that second state secretary in the foreign department they hand over full control over exterior politics - that one CDU state secretary was in that post to keep their fingers in there.

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    Thanks

    That makes things a whole lot clearer!
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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