German coalition agreement

The CDU, CSU, and SPD have concluded a coalition agreement. It must be ratified by the SPD membership in a postal ballot.

My immediate reaction is that the SPD did quite well. The lack of other alternatives–the Greens had already broken off earlier talks on forming a coalition with the CDU and CSU–and the real risk that the SPD members could veto whatever deal was struck seems to have resulted in quite significant concessions from the CDU and CSU, given that the latter conservative “Union” parties were only a few seats short of a majority on their own.

The SPD gets its demand for a minimum wage of 8.50 euros, but it will still be possible through 2016 for employers and unions to agree to a lower wage. The parties compromised their positions on renewable energy targets and pension eligibility. The CSU obtained its demand for freeway tolls for vehicles registered in other countries (as long as it is consistent with EU law).

Clips of each of the three party leaders at a press conference (dubbed into English) announcing the deal are available on DW. It is noteworthy that the CSU leader speaks separately, and last of the three. We often speak of the “CDU/CSU” as if it were effectively a single party. And, in terms of not competing against each other in elections and, at least so far, not having gone into or out of government without the other, they do act almost as one. Yet it is clear that in coalition bargaining, they are separate parties. If one watches the clips, one sees the CSU leader, Horst Seehofer, specifically claim credit for achievements for his party. He mentions that the “grand coalition” was always his preference (implicitly suggesting others might have had a different preference), and he mentions concessions favorable to the states (his party is active in a single state, Bavaria), as well as the freeway-tolls deal.

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