Berlin – It is a symbolic photo. Some already see it as a selfie of power. On Tuesday evening, FDP leader Christian Lindner, his general secretary Volker Wissing and the Green Party chairmen Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock published a joint portrait photo on their respective Instagram channels. Mind you: at the same time. In the text below it says: “In the search for a new government, we are exploring common ground and bridges across divisions. And even find some. Exciting times. “
The message is beyond doubt: Greens and liberals are ready, they want to govern. And you decide who moves into the Chancellery: Olaf Scholz or Armin Laschet. In this respect, it is a smart move to first define your own projects – and only then approach the SPD and Union. That strengthens your own negotiating position.
Traffic lights or Jamaica: the federal government is economically challenged
What is decisive, however, is what content a new federal government as a whole will agree on – also and especially against the background of economic policy challenges. Corona will have a long lasting effect, demographic change will have an impact on the labor market in the next few years and the country will lag behind in terms of digitization. These are just a few examples. So politicians are challenged.
“We can count on more speed with the next federal government,” says Henning Vöpel, economist and director of the Center for European Politics in Berlin. The economist sees the drivers of change in the FDP and the Greens. Big projects are the climate-friendly restructuring of the economy, the modernization of the state and the topic of digitization. “It’s not just about broadband coverage. The entire administration, schools, health authorities, authorities must be set up digitally. It’s almost a cultural revolution, ”Vöpel told the Berliner Zeitung.
It would be the task of the popular parties, which are no longer that large, to take over the moderation in a three or four alliance (with the CSU), according to the researcher. The SPD stands for a more social orientation, the Union for a more conservative narrative of stability in the face of upheavals. One way or another, however, the small parties set the pace. FDP leader Christian Lindner has also identified the Liberals and Greens as the “progressive center” of a coalition. The only question is: with whom?
The Greens are close to the SPD, which wants a minimum wage of 12 euros, more redistribution and higher taxes for the rich. The FDP rejects this. The Liberals are hoping for a business-friendly policy with the Union. In this constellation, the Greens would have to jump over their shadows. Economist Vöpel sees a slight tendency towards traffic lights, especially since the opposites appear to be bridgeable. To name just a few examples: The FDP could accept a higher minimum wage, the SPD refrain from a wealth tax and the Greens could also be convinced of a market-based climate policy, provided that the CO2-saving targets are achieved with it. And: All parties promise investments that the debt brake would not even have to be abolished for this – a point that is particularly important for the liberals.
However, the traffic light is not a sure-fire success. The SPD entered the federal elections with a decidedly left-wing program. The fact that Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz promised a stable pension level up and down the country and also excluded changes in the retirement age caused heads to shake among experts. “The SPD’s electoral program does not fit into the economic landscape of the 2020s,” says Stefan Kooths, economic director of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
Traffic light or Jamaica: Economist calls for growth impulses
The German economy looks back on a decade of growth. But the prospects are becoming gloomy, if only because fewer and fewer people are available on the labor market. “The new federal government can no longer draw on full resources,” Kooths told the Berliner Zeitung. In turbulent times, Jamaica would be more for profit, the traffic light for distribution. “But we need growth-friendly impulses,” says the economist.
Politicians could soon have to grapple with this. In its current economic barometer, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) is already warning of a “stormy winter” in which the German economy is barely moving. The next federal government must find an answer to this. Selfies alone will not be enough.