German coalition talks have ended, but a deal hinges on upcoming SPD member vote: Interview with Handelsblatt Global Editor-in-Chief Andreas Kluth

 

The coalition talks to form Germany’s next government have finally drawn to an end. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), together with the Christian Socialist Union in Bavaria (CSU), have reached an agreement with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), but it’s not over just yet: the SPD’s 460,000 members will have the last word when they vote later this month on whether or not to approve the deal.

A key point in any coalition agreement is deciding which party will control which government ministries. This year, three will go to the CSU, six to the CDU and six to the SPD. With the powerful Finance Ministry switching hands from the CDU to SPD, many journalists see the SPD as the clear winner of the negotiation talks. Handelsblatt Global Editor-in-Chief Andreas Kluth is inclined to agree with this assessment: “Angela Merkel has surrendered, and is calling it victory.” Also part of the deal: CSU leader Horst Seehofer will head an expanded Interior Ministry, including a new department called “Heimat,” or “homeland.”

“It’s all dreams coming true for the CSU,” says Kluth, who sees the move as a tactical response from a party that performed poorly in last year’s elections. “They had to go to the populist right with a lot of talk about security, but also this ‘Heimat,’ this ‘homeland’ idea – nobody knows exactly what that is, what that means…but for them, it’s of course a victory that [Seehofer] can now talk about in his beer tents as he gets ready for the election in a year.”

Kluth also discusses a recent report in Handelsblatt Global which may surprise some: Germany is actually a top rule-breaker in the European Union.

Photo by SPD Schleswig-Holstein.