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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Traffic light budget crisis: The problem has a name: FDP

The Constitutional Court has decided: The government can take on new debts, but the FDP must give up its blockade. I’m sure she will too.

Christian Lindner in the Bundestag

“Our maxim: Get to work, get the job done, problems are just thorny opportunities.” (Lindner 1997) Photo: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

It cannot be emphasized often enough: the traffic light has a political problem, not a legal one. It would be possible, to suspend the debt brake and take out new loans. The Federal Constitutional Court has only made it clear which criteria must apply in the future. But the FDP doesn’t want to. Their mantra is: (Almost) no debt and no tax increases. This means that the traffic light is unable to act.

The question now arises for the Greens as to why they should still take part in the traffic lights. They wanted to advance climate protection in this government, but are now being thwarted because there is a lack of essential funds.

The Greens are in the comfortable position of being able to leave the traffic lights without being harmed. Because they have a loyal core electorate who are no longer interested in making lazy compromises with the FDP. In the polls, the Greens are stable between 13 and 16 percent, so despite the traffic light chaos, they have about as much support as they did in the 2021 federal election. The SPD and FDP, who have slipped dramatically in the polls, can only dream of that.

Above all the FDP has to fear for its existence. In many countries it has been kicked out of parliament or the government, and in the federal government it only gets 5.5 to 6 percent of the vote. This is the death zone.

If the traffic light fails, it would be definitively proven that the Lindner party cannot govern because it lacks intellectual flexibility.

It would be fatal for the FDP if the traffic light coalition broke up. Because that would finally prove that the Lindner party cannot govern because it lacks intellectual flexibility. The traffic light is the last chance for the Liberals to make a name for themselves as a governing party after the FDP hastily withdrew from the Jamaica negotiations in 2017. By the way, it was the issue of debt that caused Lindner to fail in the coalition talks with Merkel.

The FDP has maneuvered itself into a dead end in terms of content: it behaves as a business party, but it is losing the economy. Most companies have long since recognized that climate protection is imperative – and are therefore particularly interested in the question of how high the government’s subsidies are. The corporations have nothing against national debt and find it The FDP’s insistence on principles just tiring.

So Lindner is largely isolated and urgently interested in the traffic lights. Therefore, he is likely to give in in the end. All that remains is to find a face-saving solution so that new debts become possible without Lindner having to explicitly agree.

One option would be for the Chancellor to exercise his policymaking authority. The traffic light already has experience with this instrument – and Scholz could make a name for himself as a strong leader. The SPD can also use that right now.

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