Exploratory talks in Berlin: About red lines and fantasy

Status: 11.10.2021 4:21 a.m.

For ten hours today, the SPD, Greens and FDP want to sound out whether they can start coalition negotiations. The participants insist on confidentiality. But “red lines” were formulated beforehand.

By Barbara Kostolnik, ARD capital studio

It is the question of all questions: “What’s next in Berlin now?” – that is also of great interest to the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder. Only he is out for the time being, at least when it comes to forming a government. The SPD, FDP and the Greens will rack their brains over how things will go on in a joyless functional building at the Berlin trade fair. Or, as the SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil puts it: “We have a few things to clarify.”

Finances – a “huge problem”

You want to take your time for ten hours today. In any case, the preliminary talks gave courage, says FDP general secretary Volker Wissing: “Everyone knows that there are different political approaches that have come into discussion with one another. There are issues that will not be easy,” he says.

There is potential for entanglement especially in financial policy positions: in taxes and finances. The FDP has given a clear rejection of tax increases, as the SPD and the Greens envision, especially for wealthier people – and will not move away from them: “We will not give in at this point, we will stick with it,” said Wissing.

The Greens are just as stable when it comes to climate protection measures – for which a lot of money will be needed. Money that the Greens want to provide, among other things, by loosening the debt brake. The FDP rejects that. Two potential partners collide here, which they are also very aware of: “That’s right, that’s why I say yes, the whole thing is far from dry,” says Greens boss Robert Habeck. And he also knows: “Finances are a huge problem.”

Reticent social democrats

It is striking how much the SPD is holding back in the battle of the red lines. One hears and sees nothing of the demands that have been made loudly in the past, especially in the party left. And if there is, then only approval of the traffic light comes, as from the Bundestag member Cansel Kiziltépe: “We only have the political majority of a traffic light coalition – that is what it has to be about now, future concepts for our country.”

It seems as if the SPD internalized a piece of advice from Robert Habeck, who wrote in capital letters confidentiality to the exploratory partners for the success of the negotiations: “Everyone shut up for a moment.”

In any case, there is only one red line for the SPD: a red Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Before probing the traffic light: Of red lines and fantasy

Barbara Kostolnik, ARD Berlin, October 11th, 2021 12:19 am