Traffic light hangover with the Vice Chancellor: Robert Habeck reports frustration

criticism of the coalition
Traffic light hangover with the Vice Chancellor: Habeck reports frustration

Robert Habeck (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection

© Martin Schutt / DPA

Robert Habeck has the fax thick. In a remarkable all-round attack, the Green Economics Minister criticizes the way the traffic light coalition works. What’s going on there?

Sometimes a feeling can be deceiving, and Olaf Scholz is obviously not immune to it either. “What happened here is his very palpable undercut,” was the Chancellor’s summary after the “very good” cabinet meeting at Schloss Meseberg. As a result, in the presence of “Robert and Christian” – Scholz confidently called his most important ministers by their first names – he ordered more cohesion and confidence not only in the country, but also in the belligerent traffic light coalition.

Now, about two weeks later, “Robert and Christian” give the impression that they are hanging out.

Christian Lindner, the FDP finance minister, puts a lot of pressure on his colleagues in the cabinet to save money in view of the tight state coffers and also puts the chancellor in front of the cost cart by publicly questioning the need for the multi-million dollar expansion of the Chancellery. Robert Habeck, the Green Economics Minister, who is even concerned about the statics of the governing coalition, is more fundamentally upset. Or?

In any case, the Vice Chancellor is frustrated, that’s for sure. On Tuesday, Habeck launched a remarkable all-round attack:

  • “It cannot be that in a progressive coalition only one coalition partner is responsible for progress and the others for preventing progress,” he criticized the climate policy ambition of the coalition partners at the start of the Green retreat in Weimar.
  • “The coalition committee must create momentum,” he demanded in an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ) in view of a large number of deadlocked traffic light projects. “We’ll only get out of there if everyone wins something. But that also means that everyone has to give something.”
  • “We have a mission for the people, for Germany to do something, and at the moment we are not doing enough,” he complained “Daily Topics”-Interview.

Oh you green nine.

Habeck lets off steam that has obviously built up in the past few days and weeks. His party is reasonably well served, with an FDP, which in any case regularly opposes the Green coalition partner, but also with a chancellor-SPD, which has remarkably little to say about this and that exchange of blows. By no means a new circumstance. The fact that Habeck is now going all out verbally should therefore have other reasons.

Robert Habeck and the heating plans

In particular, the heating plans, or rather the constantly agitated debate about them, are making the Minister of Economic Affairs furious. When the “energy hammer” became public through the “Bild” newspaper, one could almost get the impression that Habeck had taken a new approach to the matter. In fact, the planned installation ban on completely fossil heating systems has been planned for some time, and there is a corresponding agreement in the coalition agreement.

There the SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed that from 2025 every newly installed heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energies. In view of the energy crisis, the coalition leaders agreed last year to implement the project “if possible” a year earlier. Habeck’s green Ministry of Economic Affairs and Klara Geywitz’ red Ministry of Construction are working on a corresponding law.

Nevertheless: After the first draft bill became known, which led to a heated public debate, the FDP declared that it did not support the project. Social Democrats like Manuela Schwesig, Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, or Stephan Weil, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, also criticized the plans – pointing in particular to Habeck and his house.

This obviously causes irritation and also resignation for the supposed bogeyman. In the ARD “Tagesthemen” Habeck was outraged that the draft for the heating replacement was “leaked to the ‘Bild’ newspaper – I must assume deliberately – at a very early stage,” “in order to damage trust in the government “. As a result, talks between the coalition partners were “probably destroyed on purpose, because of the cheap tactical advantage”. Since something like this probably “doesn’t happen by accident,” Habeck said, he was “a bit alarmed as to whether there was any willingness to come to an agreement at all.”

Next Sunday, the coalition wants to prove the opposite, not least because Habeck is offensively demanding it. Then the traffic light leaders meet for the coalition committee in the chancellery, to bend over the long list of current and ongoing controversial issues and explore compromises.

Habeck assumes that the alleged loss of confidence in the government there can be repaired. “The cooperation in the cabinet is impeccable, we can discuss things calmly and quite normally,” he said and also approached the critics of the controversial heating plans, “but we just can’t get them over the political finish line because then we keep looking how is the media echo chamber, what will my next party conference do, where are the next state elections”.

In any case, the atmosphere before the top meeting is tense, the tone is getting rougher and the anger runs deep. The same applies to the coalition partners: Both the FDP and the SPD immediately objected to the Vice Chancellor’s public accusation that only one coalition partner – which was probably meant to mean the Greens – was responsible for progress.

Reason to worry? Doesn’t exist, Habeck reports in the “FAZ”. When asked how likely it was that the traffic light would last until the end of the legislative period, he replied: “110 percent”. That’s probably the confidence that the chancellor has invoked.

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