November 07, 2017
Don’t believe everything German politicians tell you
It has been our experience that, in order to assess a political situation, it is best to understand the protagonists’ incentives rather than to listen to what they say. This is why we are relatively optimistic about Brexit (the interests of the EU and the UK are not identical, but are aligned). And this is also why we expect a Jamaica coalition to happen in Germany. Angela Merkel desperately needs the coalition, or otherwise her political career could end pretty soon. And, with this strong incentive, she will do whatever it takes to secure such a coalition.
Merkel bounced back yesterday after a notorious period of reticence, alarmed by repeated threats from the FDP that it would be happy to pull out of the talks and face new elections - as the polls are currently benign for the FDP, but not for the CDU or the SPD. She has set a deadline for the talks about talks for November 16. This stage of the talks has produced an awful lot of noise in the media. Merkel criticised the talk of new elections. And she made the point that the parties had an overarching responsibility to reach an agreement - in a comment that seems to equate the interest of the state with her own.
FDP chief Christian Lindner seemed to back off from his previous hard-line position that he would rather have new elections than compromise on his party’s many red lines. And the Greens, too, are compromising over phasing out diesel technology as reported in Süddeutsche Zeitung yesterday.
FAZ has a good insight on the FDP’s negotiating tactics. The reason why Lindner is playing hard-to-get lies in the experience of 2009, when the FDP seemed all too eager to get back into government, with disastrous results four years later.