After weeks of negotiations, the three parties that will make up the next government unveiled on Wednesday a roadmap for their partnership, a coalition agreement crafted in great detail in the tradition of consensus-based postwar German politics.
Germany has a long history of coalition politics. After the end of World War II, only one party won a clear majority once – in 1957 under Konrad Adenauer. However, he decided to join forces with a small party to build a coalition.
Coalition agreements, while not legally binding, serve as a way to ensure that all members are on the same page, especially when faced with a crisis or unexpected events. It is a way to try to minimize tensions between partners and ensure the stability and longevity of their governing alliance.
The new government, to be headed by Olaf Scholz, is an unusual mechanism that brings together three parties – his Social Democrats, green environmentalists and Free Democrats for business. For the first time since the 1950s, the three partners had to put aside differences and disagreements on issues in order to form a government, which made the agreement even more important.
Considering how unusual this is, the current coalition agreement was developed relatively quickly, although it will take almost 11 weeks by the time the government is likely to be sworn in.
For the last government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, by contrast, the deal took almost 25 weeks, because the first round of coalition talks failed and a second attempt was needed – with new partners. As a result, they reached an agreement in the amount of almost 64,000 words, which is a record.
The new agreement will be presented by the party leaders on Wednesday afternoon. In it, the partners found common ground on key policy issues, such as increasing investment in digital and climate infrastructure, avoiding tax increases, or supporting the country’s commitment to democracy and the European Union.
“Germany needs a stable and reliable government capable of solving the problems facing our country,” the parties wrote in a summary of their agreement, which was released earlier. “Our negotiations have shown that we can succeed in this.”
The document, presented on Wednesday, still needs to be approved by the leadership or members of each of the parties. The process is expected to be completed by early December, after which Mr. Scholz and his new government can be sworn in.
In the recent past, the system allowed coalitions to stay together for a four-year legislative period. However, in the 1960s and early 1980s, several governments collapsed as the junior partner pulled out of coalitions with both Conservatives and Social Democrats.
They were Free Democrats each time.