Red-green in Lower Saxony: With the finger to Berlin


Status: 10/18/2022 5:19 p.m

During the election campaign, the SPD and the Greens in Lower Saxony clearly campaigned for the end of the Emsland nuclear power plant. Now it stays longer on the net, the chancellor has decided. What does that mean for the coalition negotiations?

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s word of power comes right in the middle of the preparations for the coalition negotiations in Lower Saxony. In focus: the SPD and the Greens – the two parties that clearly spoke out in favor of the Emsland nuclear power plant being taken offline at the end of the year.

A week and a half ago, the Greens were campaigning for votes with “Bye, Bye AKW”. For them, the nuclear power debate has primarily become a question of identity. SPD leader Stephan Weil also made it clear that the nuclear power plant in Lingen was not necessary to ensure the energy supply. But now everything is different: Scholz makes use of his directive competence and Lower Saxony has to follow.

A victory for the Greens?

But what effects does the Chancellor’s decision have on the coalition talks in Hanover? After all, it initially seems as if Scholz had ignored the Greens. The criticism of the Lower Saxony party leadership that it is a matter of “basta policy” also fits into this thesis. But the Lower Saxony party leadership may have to take exactly this course – point the finger at Berlin, save face in public. Otherwise they could lose credibility.

In any case, a different picture emerges. According to party circles, it is the most elegant way to resolve this conflict. “This is a clear victory for the Greens,” says a Lower Saxony SPD member behind closed doors. Above all, the FDP lost, which has spoken out in favor of continued operation until 2024. Finally, no new fuel rods are used. In addition, the operation is only stretched, the phasing out of nuclear power is thus finally sealed. Exactly what the Greens always wanted.

“Olaf Scholz’s actions consistently irritating”, Julia Willie Hamburg, Bündnis90/Die Grünen, on the chancellor’s word of power

tagesschau24 3:00 p.m., 18.10.2022

All symbolic politics?

It is also unclear what added value the continued operation of the nuclear power plant in Lingen actually has for the energy supply in Germany. In Lower Saxony’s Ministry of the Environment, which is also the responsible nuclear regulatory authority, it is currently assumed that the nuclear power plant is not making any real contribution. In addition, it is completely open how the electricity is to be transported to southern Germany, according to government circles in Lower Saxony.

Lower Saxony still wants to create the appropriate conditions. All symbolic politics or North German pragmatism in the crisis?

Probably no surprise to Weil

It is said about Weil that he would probably have reacted in a similar way to Scholz: A word of power as a clear sign that ultimately settled the dispute, but did not have any major consequences. In addition, the Chancellor’s decision in favor of Weil should not have come as a complete surprise. Because even during the election campaign, Scholz pointed out that there could still be movement in the matter, according to Lower Saxony.

The fact that the change of course only happened a week after the Lower Saxony state elections must have been a strategic move.

Because although Lower Saxony’s SPD and Greens have spoken out in favor of the Emsland nuclear power plant being taken off the grid at the end of the year in the state election campaign, they no longer have to justify the federal political decision. They can continue to be united – after all, they fought for the same goal.

In the end, the Chancellor’s decision also means that no nuclear power plant in Germany will remain connected to the grid beyond April, paving the way for the red-green energy transition in Lower Saxony.

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