Guest article: Black-Green is a coalition for higher earners


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Sblack-green was the “desired coalition” of the North Rhine-Westphalia Greens from the start. Why? Because this is the only way majorities for voting from the age of 16 are possible, said Felix Banaszak 2022, then still chairman of the green state association. The votes of the SPD are in the bag anyway, but only with the CDU as a government partner would there be the necessary two-thirds majority. That is an amazingly honest and meaningful justification, as it reveals a few things about green priorities: “Affordable housing” is also an issue in the green election program, but make government participation dependent on it? The party doesn’t even come up with the idea.

More than ten million people live in rented accommodation in North Rhine-Westphalia, and well over a million in Schleswig-Holstein. Both the black and yellow previous government in North Rhine-Westphalia and Jamaica in the north had dragged the property rights of the tenants wherever they could. Since then, rents have risen more than they have in decades. Good and affordable new build apartments is practically non-existent for families of average earners. Neither in the west nor in the north.

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It’s the worst housing shortage in decades. This has not improved a bit under black and green. The new construction of apartments with rent control is at a record low, tenant protection is just as bad as in the last legislative period. The Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia have decided to vote at 16, in the north for another ministry. In return, the CDU is allowed to continue its free-market housing policy in North Rhine-Westphalia, and in the north, black-green is delaying the minimal concessions that the tenants’ association has wrested from the coalition with the promised reintroduction of the cap.

At the climate protection it is the same. Instead of protecting people from the ban on their gas heating by building climate-neutral heating networks, millions are being distributed in Schleswig-Holstein with the “Climate Protection for Citizens” program to the wealthy clientele of the CDU and Greens, who can thus get a little more funding for their heat pump or PV – Get plant. The people who live for rent or don’t have any money on the high edge to finance their own contribution to the subsidy go away empty-handed.

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Alexander Dobrindt, 53, chairman of the CSU state group in the Bundestag

That is the pattern of black-green politics: It is politics for a well-to-do public, who are familiar with fears of decline from reading the newspapers, would like to invest in renewable energies themselves and expect “sustainability” – i.e. spending discipline – from the state. There is a bit of law and order for the conservative regular audience, and a bit of progressive social politics for urban academic milieus, as long as it costs nothing and doesn’t hurt anyone.

What doesn’t exist – and in no black-green governed country: Relief for working families, collective bargaining compliance laws, educational programs for more equal opportunities, investments in climate protection for all or active industrial policy. Black-Green is not a coalition for people who are worried about their rents, rising prices or the educational opportunities their children do.

Annoying constant argument of the traffic light

And yet this alliance is treated by observers as a “future coalition” for the federal government. On the one hand, this is due to the annoying constant dispute over the traffic lights, and on the other hand to the political style of the two prime ministers, Daniel Günther and Hendrik Wüst. Both adhere to the Günther doctrine: stay away from culture wars, “stay linguistically clean” and – because it is no longer a matter of course in the Merz and Söder Union – “don’t tell people shit”.

Wüst and Günther are nice people who say nice things. For example, that all children in our country are “our children”, no matter what their name is. You can even believe that they actually consider Salih, Aylin and Mustafa to be their country’s children. They just don’t want to do anything for their educational success.

In no federal state is the education system in such a serious crisis as in NRW: education tests are catastrophic, daycare centers write fire letters, there are fewer equal opportunities than ever. Schleswig-Holstein also falls in the IQB education trend return. As bad and unfair as the situation is, little is being done about it. The participation of the Greens in government has not changed anything here or there. On the contrary. If you keep the resources for education scarce, you have to set priorities. Salih, Aylin and Mustafa’s parents probably don’t vote at all. The parents of Louis, Finn and Sofie, on the other hand, definitely do. The Greens are also counting on this.

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Historical shock

Where the CDU and the Greens govern together, they are not as different as is often claimed. They are even surprisingly similar in style and content: nice, eco and neoliberal. In this respect, you don’t need a lot of imagination to imagine what the politics of a black-green politics in the federal government would look like. The core of the pact known from the countries is renewed: conservative economic and social policy against moderately progressive environmental and social policy.

There will be no shortage of commitments to diversity and cosmopolitanism. The expansion of renewable energies, which was accelerated by the traffic light, will not be reversed either. In return, the Union may implement its tax reform plans: maggressive tax cuts for high and higher earners. The Greens will not oppose this. why? It is also their voters who benefit. And how! The gaps in the billions that the reform will tear up in the budget must be closed by cuts elsewhere.

family policy? none

It’s really not hard to imagine how Daniel Bayaz (Greens) and Carsten Linnemann (CDU) jointly explain why the abolition of the pension at 63, the benefit cuts of the statutory health insurance companies and the abolition of the tax exemption for night and shift allowances are imperatives of “sustainability” and “intergenerational equity”.

In short: Black-Green is a coalition for higher earners, for their accounts and, above all, for their conscience. There will be no policy for employees and their families. Nor is it a political concept that underpins the individualism of our time in solidarity, that combines the wonderful freedom of the individual with the power of solidarity, that takes the elites to responsibility for the progress of the many.

Black-Green cannot and does not want to do that. A social-democratic government, on the other hand, does. It is the SPD that wants to reconcile opposites, that wants to lead the way without leaving others behind. Just like the traffic light does – even if it sometimes gets louder, crunches and rattles. This keeps democracy alive, also causes opposition, but above all participation and solutions.

Jochen Ott leads the SPD parliamentary group in North Rhine-Westphalia and Thomas Losse-Müller in Schleswig-Holstein.

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From left: Thuringia's AfD faction leader Björn Höcke, the designated AfD district administrator in Sonneberg, Robert Stuhlmann, and CDU leader Friedrich Merz

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