The differences in the traffic light coalition are becoming more and more obvious over the question of tank deliveries. The Greens, in particular, are not holding back their criticism of the chancellor’s hesitation. But it is also clear on other issues that there is a crunch between the coalition partners.
The air in the traffic light coalition is thick – since the beginning of the year it has become increasingly uncomfortable. The clashes between the coalition partners are being carried out more and more often – and sometimes seem like criticism from the opposition, especially from the Greens. Which point of contention there was between the coalition partner and the Social Democrats.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) duped the Chancellor with the public promise that Germany would “not stand in the way” of the transfer of tanks from third countries. Because Olaf Scholz (SPD) has neither decided on this nor on the delivery of battle tanks from Germany to Ukraine.
Green politician Anton Hofreiter had previously spoken publicly of a “significant mistake” and a “loss of confidence” in the federal government because it was hesitant to deliver the Leopard battle tanks.
But not only currently, in the months before there had been strong headwind for the Chancellor from the ranks of the Greens in Ukraine politics. The Green MEP Sergey Lagodinsky, for example, is known for his loud criticism. He himself has Russian roots and recently said at the Green Party Congress that Ukraine “cannot be defended with sunflowers”. In October, he criticized Scholz even more sharply on the ZDF political talk show “Maybrit Illner”: “We need crisis management, and I miss this crisis management from the highest authority in our country!”
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The Greens also accompanied the change in the Ministry of Defense in some cases more like an opposition party than a coalition party. Green politicians were upset about the male successor to ex-Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and insisted on parity. The deputy leader of the Greens in the Bundestag, Agnieszka Brugger, had granted the former Interior Minister of Lower Saxony Boris Pistorius extensive powers and described him as an “excellent choice”. Nevertheless, Brugger had complained: “It cannot be that the Chancellor promises an equal cabinet for the federal government and in the end only the Greens stick to it.”
However, SPD representatives such as Maria Noichl also complained about the lack of parity. Since then, however, hardly anything has been heard from the SPD on the subject.
Just a few days ago, the Greens published a catalog of defects in the policies of Transport Minister Wolfgang Wissing (FDP). It contains a whole list of measures how the Ministry of Transport can ensure CO2 savings. Behind this is the fear of the Greens that the goals agreed in the coalition agreement cannot be achieved through the measures against the energy crisis. But he wants to expand the highways further – the Green party leadership around Omid Nouripour rejects that.
Some Greens also acted like the opposition in connection with the protests around the coal village of Lützerath. The Greens member of the Bundestag, Nyke Slawik, who was in Lützerath at the time of the climate activists’ protests, strongly condemned the eviction of the village. She felt “alienated,” she wrote on Twitter. “Estranged from how some defend the eviction in Lützerath and the deal with RWE.”.
Kathrin Henneberger also joined the protests against the eviction of Lützerath as a member of the Greens in the Bundestag. In October, the Greens had voted unanimously for an early exit from coal by 2030, which included a compromise that the village of Lüzerath could be cleared for this. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) negotiated the agreement.
The chancellor also encountered strong headwinds when dealing with China. Against the will of several departments, the Chancellor had allowed the Chinese state-owned company Cosco to enter the port of Hamburg.
“Germany must not repeat the mistakes in dealing with China that we have made with Russia over the past 20 years,” Hofreiter warned at the time – in vain. Baerbock had also spoken out against the deal and reiterated this afterwards: “As you know, I would have correctly found if they (the Chinese, ed.) were not involved at all.”
When Scholz traveled to China, Green Party leader Ricarda Lang called for a “change in China policy”. The Chancellor, criticized the Green Party politician, would have done well “if representatives of civil society and human rights experts had traveled alongside business representatives”.
The truth is, however, that the FDP does not hold back with criticism either. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP) even speaks of a “failure” in Germany because of the tank’s hesitation: “History is looking at us and unfortunately Germany has just failed,” she said in a ZDF interview. She had previously described the Chancellor’s communication as a “disaster”.
It was also she who sharply criticized the sale of the Hamburg port shares. “What else has to happen in the world for Germany to arrive in reality and not behave in front of the enemies of the free democratic world? A sale of critical infrastructure to China is a blatant mistake and should be stopped,” she said in November.
In the meantime, even SPD chairman Lars Klingbeil is calling the coalition partners to order. “I know what I would do as party leader if my party kept throwing cross shots like this,” he said.
Green Party leader Nouripour defended Klingbeil’s indirect warning: “There were people in every party who sometimes didn’t particularly hit the mark. That also applies to my party, applies to the SPD as well as to the FDP, ”said Nouripour. “But it is crucial that we stand together in government action. And we do.”