Energy complicates outlook for ‘Jamaica coalition’ in Germany

Nov. 3, 2017
Formation in Germany of something called a Jamaica coalition would be complicated even if energy issues were easy to settle, which they never are.

Formation in Germany of something called a Jamaica coalition would be complicated even if energy issues were easy to settle, which they never are.

The name arises from colors representing three political parties negotiating to form a government—the black, yellow, and green of the Jamaican flag.

That’s the easy part.

After federal elections Sept. 24, the Bundestag for the first time has representatives from six parties.

And for the first time since 1949, the winning party must form a coalition with more than one other party.

The challenge arose because Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union failed to win a majority and because its former coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, moved into opposition after its worst showing since World War II.

The CDU itself lost support, although it and its Bavarian sidekick, the Christian Social Union, captured the largest vote share, 33%.

Their alliance thus must form a government with the Free Democratic Party and Green Party. The former is liberal but tends to favor free markets. The latter likes socialism and aggressive response to climate change.

Outliers are the left-wing Left Party and populist Alternative for Germany, which entered the Bundestag for the first time at the CSU’s expense.

In addition to energy, conflicts over taxation and immigration will make formation of a coalition tricky, even under the pragmatic leadership of Merkel.

According to press reports, she had to intervene as negotiations began to mitigate a conflict over energy.

The Greens called for an end by 2030 of coal-fired power generation. The Free Democrats resisted. They know German electricity prices already are second-highest in Europe, thanks to generous state support of renewable energy and nuclear-plant closures.

Representatives of all parties to the initial skirmish paid homage to programs aimed at cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. They said they differed on how to meet established goals and keep the economy strong and energy affordable.

By one measure, as German energy consumers can attest, that compromise already has been made.

(From the subscription area of www.ogj.com, posted Nov. 3, 2017; author’s e-mail: [email protected])