The election results are official, the Social Democratic Party of Germany declared its defeat and announced they will not be part of another Grand Coalition. The poor results for Angela Merkel’s union of the sister parties CDU and CSU – who came out as the biggest party, but with only 33 percent – leave the “Jamaica Coalition” as only constellation with an arithmetic majority. Chancellor Angela Merkel will now invite representatives of all parties – she also insisted on talks with the SPD, despite their decision – to evaluate possible similarities in the party programs. But negotiations are not going to be easy!
Bargaining positions from CDU, CSU, FDP and the Greens are different in plenty important aspects. To start with social policies, the German health care system differs between statutory and private health care. The Greens want to change that to a common insurance system, where high-income earners contribute more; an argument the Liberals cannot agree with, they want to keep the competition and rather strengthen private medical insurance. The Greens also want to introduce a new top taxation rate; the Christ Social Union strictly refuses this, while the FDP even wants to ensure a tax relief of 30 billion euros.
Another essential points of issue are environmental and climate policies. The Greens demand an immediate stop of the twenty dirtiest coal-fired power plants, to reduce the carbon emissions. By 2030 they want a state-wide power production just by renewable energy sources. But those government measures to quit coal-fired energy would violate against market-liberal principles by the FDP – it is not clear, if they can agree on that issue.
In an interview after the election, party candidate Cem Özdemir affirmed their agenda to take care of a fast change to electro mobility – a necessary step after Diesel-gate. On the other hand, FDP and the Union do not want to leave behind the German automotive industry with all its jobs. Merkel projected a turning away from diesel only in the long term, instead, a better way would be the adjustment of CO2 limits in German cities. It is obvious the opinions differ quite a lot, but each party must be willing to make a compromise on certain aspects, to reach some sort of consent.
Refugee and migration policies will be a further topic to discuss about. On Monday Horst Seehofer announced, that Angela Merkel does not only need to talk with representatives of the Liberals and the Greens, but also with the CSU. The Minister President of Bavaria and CSU leader has demanded a limit for arriving migrants and refugees since 2015 (a maximum of 200.000 per year), without that limit he will not form another coalition. Because of the poor results by his party in Bavaria (they lost ten points from almost 50 percent in 2013), it is very unlikely that Seehofer will deviate from his policy; the CSU does not want to lose more voters to the Alternative for Germany in next year’s Bavarian state elections. But with this promise to his voters he stands alone, the other three parties clearly positioned themselves against the so-called “Obergrenze”. Apart from this major issue, there might be some similar ideas on migration policy by the Greens and the FDP. Both parties demand an immigration law for qualified workers – but in almost every other aspect, the parties’ views diverge. This will most likely be the topic, where a “Jamaica Coalition” might fail.
Angela Merkel is not to be envied at the moment. In order to form a functioning government, she needs to unify four different parties for a common coalition. And the potential partners are aware of their power – FDP leader Christian Lindner already announced, that his party will not repeat their mistakes to abandon their voters’ principles, just to be part of a coalition. If they do not see their positions represented in a new government, he will be glad to go into the opposition. Jamaica might be the only possible way for a coalition, but it will not be a paradise.