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Germany’s Progressive ‘Traffic-Light Coalition’ Signals End of the Merkel Era

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Germany’s Progressive ‘Traffic-Light Coalition’ Signals End of the Merkel Era

The Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats announced on Wednesday their plans for Germany’s transition to a green economy and other reforms that effectively mark the end of 16 years of government under Angela Merkel and her CDU.

Social Democrat party leader Olaf Scholz is set to head the three-party coalition, along with the Greens and the Free Democrats. Because of the parties’ colours, the coalition is being called the “traffic-light” coalition.

Scholz will take over as chancellor from Merkel pending a vote in the Bundestag, expected the second week of December.

According to the BBC, Scholz said the “sovereignty of Europe is a cornerstone of our foreign policy,” while also emphasising Germany’s friendship with France and the U.S.

Chief among the coalition’s policy objectives are: raising the minimum wage  to €12; lowering the voting age from 18 to 16; allowing immigrants to apply for German citizenship after five years; setting up a ‘COVID crisis team’ at the chancellery; seeking to increase “Europe’s sovereign independence” on matters like energy and security; bringing back Germany’s no-new-debt rule; and lifting the ban on doctors who advertise abortion services.

However, climate protection is central. The new government will phase out the use of coal by 2030, expand hydrogen-based energy, seek to use 2% of German territory for wind power, and seek to make Germany climate neutral by 2045. 

The coalition also plans to expand the power of the European Parliament by giving it the right to initiate legislation. This is a privilege currently reserved for the European Commission.

According to Euractiv, the agreement also addresses Hungary and Poland, which they see as having breached the rule of law. It will move away from incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel’s more conciliatory approach. 

The September 26 election produced the CDU’s worst-ever electoral results. However, according to the BBC, it produced the best-ever results for the Greens with candidate Annalena Baerbock. She is expected to become foreign minister in the new government.

Greens co-leader Robert Habeck will be vice-chancellor and oversee the energy transition, while Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democrat, will likely be the finance minister.

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