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Germany's Greens approve three-party coalition deal

December 6, 2021

The approval of Green Party members was the last hurdle for a new three-way coalition government in Germany. The two other parties, the Free Democrats and the Social Democrats have already voted in favor.

Norbert Walter-Borjans (2ndL) and Saskia Esken (2ndR), co-leaders of the German Social Democrats (SPD), Christian Lindner (4th R), leader of the German Free Democrats (FDP), Olaf Scholz (C) of SPD, Annalene Baerbock (3rd L) and Robert Habeck (4th L), co-leaders of the Greens Party, arrive to present their mutually-agreed on coalition contract
The new 'traffic-light' coalition is promising a progressive program after 16 years of center-right led governmentImage: Abdulhamid Hosbas/AA/picture alliance

Germany's environmentalist Greens announced on Monday that its members had agreed to enter a coalition with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP).

The "yes" vote from members of the party — the last of the three to give its approval to the so-called traffic light coalition — has paved the way for the first government in 16 years without Angela Merkel as chancellor.

Altogether 86% of valid votes were in favor of the coalition agreement. Around 57% of the party's 125,000 members cast a ballot, according to the party's general secretary, Michael Kellner.

Party co-leader Annalena Baerbock said the result would give impetus to the work in the new government. 

Green politicians have been awarded several positions in the new Cabinet. Co-leaderRobert Habeck, who is also to be vice chancellor, will head the Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection; the other co-leader, Annalena Baerbock, is to be foreign minister, Anne Spiegel is to be minister for family affairs; Steffi Lembke is to take over the Environment Ministry; and veteran Green politician Claudia Roth, another Green veteran, will be the country's culture commissioner.

Another party veteran, Cem Özdemir, will be the minister of food and agriculture. His parents immigrated to Germany from Turkey and he says that add pressure on him. "I know that I have a huge obligation because every mistake that I make is a mistake- not only my mistake, it's a mistake for all people of color, whatever you want to describe them. So I feel that responsibility," Özdemir told DW on Monday.

Özdemir also said the Greens' success in government would be easy to measure: "Four years from now, we have to prove that carbon emissions go down." 

He argued that having the ministries for agriculture, energy and the envinroment all in one party's hands would increase the chances of success in this regard.

New chancellor by Wednesday?

Now the Greens have approved the coalition agreement, Social Democrats' Chancellor-designate Olaf Scholz could be elected to office on Wednesday.

The SPD on Monday announced its picks for the Cabinet of the new federal government.

The party — which emerged as the strongest party in Germany's September election — will take the portfolios for labor and social affairs, health, interior, defense, development, construction and housing, and the chancellery.

What Germany's new coalition government is planning

The three parties held two months of intense negotiations following September's election. They presented their plans in Berlin on November 24, under the title "Dare more progress."

Some of the key points of a coalition that plans to serve as an "alliance for freedom, justice, and sustainability" include:

  • Introducing a minimum wage of €12 ($13.55) per hour;
  • Make housing affordable, capping rent increases more tightly and building 400,000 new homes a year, including 100,000 using public funds;
  • Relieving electricity customers by no longer having the billion-euro renewable energy surcharge financed on electricity bills;
  • Establishing a new Federal Ministry for Construction and expanding the Ministry of Economics to include climate protection;
  • Obtaining 80% of Germany's electricity from renewable energies by 2030;
  • Lowering the voting age to 16;
  • Legalizing the recreational use of cannabis.

The new government will replace the grand coalition of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the SPD — the two largest party blocs in parliament, who have dominated German politics since the end of World War II.

rc, tj/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)