If the SPD and the Greens had their way, the heating law would be read in the Bundestag for the first time on Thursday. But the FDP is opposed – with pithy words. In doing so, the FDP is also making itself an opponent of the SPD – and possibly also the Federal Chancellor for the first time.
The heating law is becoming a major stress test for the traffic light government: the SPD and the Greens are aiming for the first reading of the cabinet draft in the Bundestag this week, but the FDP is opposed. “It’s such a big construction site that I can’t imagine that we’ll be able to achieve a result in this week of meetings, let alone before the summer break,” said FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai on Monday afternoon. The draft by Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck contains “an incredible number of errors,” says Djir-Sarai. “Here we need a new law in principle, the debates about selective improvements are not helpful.” It is a frontal attack on the Green Minister, with whom the FDP actually governs together.
If the SPD sticks to its No to the first reading this week, the schedule pushed by the SPD and the Greens to pass the law by July 7th would probably be obsolete. The responsible spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group for energy policy, Michael Kruse, had already called for “a new, realistic schedule for the heating law” and fundamental changes at the weekend. Kruse told the “Rheinische Post” that Habeck should first deal with the “restructuring of the top management of his ministry”.
SPD is fundamentally behind GEG
While Habeck has been asking for weeks not to mix up the personnel affair and reports about private relationships at the top of his house with the Building Energy Act (GEG), the FDP is persistently doing the opposite. Graichen is considered the architect of the heating law, but had to Best man affair last week go. At least in the FDP, hardly anyone mourns Graichen because he had already messed things up with their specialist politicians before the best man affair became known. Habeck’s confidante was too arrogant and ideologically narrow. On Monday it became known that the Hessian State Secretary Philipp Nimmermann should replace the ousted Graichen.
But while the FDP’s criticism of the GEG is actually aimed solely at Habeck and the Greens, this time it could also turn the SPD into an opponent. Like the liberals, this calls for other technologies to be considered more closely in addition to the heat pump and for neither owners nor tenants to be overwhelmed. In principle, however, the Social Democrats want the heating exchange, which also works with bans, i.e. a large heating exchange with the means of regulatory law. If, on the other hand, the FDP had its way alone, there would be no ban at all, only incentives – and a market-economy transformation of the German heating landscape through a reliably and significantly rising CO2 price.
“As the SPD, we want this law to be passed in parliament before the summer,” SPD leader Lars Klingbeil made clear on Sunday evening on ARD. In the morning, Rolf Mützenich follows up on the same station: “I regret that, it annoys me,” says the SPD parliamentary group leader about the FDP’s announced blockade of not holding the first reading in the Bundestag on Thursday. “The FDP must be able to come to reliable deliberations in the German Bundestag. You can’t do that outside of parliament. We’re in a coalition,” said Mützenich, calling the Liberals to order.
Habeck warns against breach of contract
Habeck will have heard the positions of the SPD leadership. When he again presented his ideas on the electricity price brake on Monday afternoon, the Economics Minister recalled the epic coalition committee at the end of March – Habeck calls it a “political masterpiece” – at the end of which there was also a fundamental agreement on the Building Energy Act. “We have agreed in the coalition committee that the building energy law will be passed before the parliamentary summer holidays.” And: “Of course, I expect the same from the coalition partners as was expected from us.”
This means that there is an accusation of breach of word or contract if the FDP insists on a fundamental readjustment of the law. But the FDP sees things differently. Neither the schedule of the SPD and the Greens was agreed with the consent of the FDP, nor the law as such. The FDP was able to push through many improvements, but not enough. Habeck’s house has not been readjusted enough so far. In addition, the head of the FDP and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner only approved the cabinet draft with a note of protest.
Scholz without influence on the FDP faction
Habeck remembers it differently: There was unanimity in the cabinet. He is therefore “optimistic” that the adoption of the GEG will remain until the summer. Chancellor Olaf Scholz was present both in the coalition committee and in the cabinet, stresses Habeck. After the chancellor had sided too often with the FDP in conflicts in the past, Habeck sees the chancellor on his side this time.
The problem: the head of government’s authority is limited, should he intervene publicly at all. The cabinet draft is now before Parliament. Members of the government cannot give the factions bad guidelines. FDP boss Lindner can also refer to this fact, which is why Scholz cannot resolve the conflict with a call to his finance minister.
Lindner could influence the behavior of his party colleagues in the Bundestag behind the scenes, but the incentive is small. The FDP is not convinced of the heating law as a whole and sees itself confirmed by the polls. While the Greens in particular, but also the SPD, are weak in the polls, the Liberals have now reached a high for the year with eight percent in the RTL/ntv trend barometer.
On Wednesday, the already ailing Minister of Economics could continue to lose authority: the Union wants to ask Habeck and his State Secretary Udo Philipp in a public committee meeting about possible conflicts of interest between Philipp’s private investments and his work in the ministry. The opposition senses a second state secretary affair within a month.