Daring Progress with better Policy? The new German coalition agreement spells time of change
By Bernd Buschhausen
So now the time has come, almost. Following weeks of silent negotiations, the leading parties in the German Federal Parliament, Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party, and the Liberal Democrats (FDP), have presented their coalition agreement. While it still requires party member consent, the agreement will ultimately form the new Government work programme under the still to be elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). As non-decisive the so-called traffic light coalition has been in handling the current pandemic, I’m all the more surprised at how disciplined the coalition negotiations were pulled off – two extremes that will characterize the new Federal Government and by which the new coalition will be measured in the end. Besides the content, of course.
With the title of the coalition agreement, “Dare More Progress” (quoting former Chancellor and SPD hero Willy Brandt’s slogan “Dare More Democracy”), the coalition partners point to the failures of past years with a thick stake in order to create maximum distance from previous governments – at least in terms of communication.
At the same time, the new coalition is underscoring its claim to modernization, in order to tackle the major issues of our time and shape a more sustainable future. After all, the challenges that the future federal government will have to solve are gigantic: climate change, pandemics, Europe, digitization, global security.
The coalition aims to counter these in a targeted manner with concrete measures in key future fields:
First: modern technologies for competitive and climate-neutral industry (such as steel and basic materials industry) in Germany. Ensuring clean energy production and supply
-supply as well as sustainable mobility of the future.
Second: Climate, climate impacts, biodiversity, sustainability, the Earth system and corresponding adaptation strategies, as well as sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Third: A precautionary, crisis-proof and modern health care system, which uses the opportunities of biotechnological and medical procedures, and which combats age-related diseases as well as rare or poverty-related diseases. In addition, the traffic light opens the door for National Prevention Plans on individual disease patterns.
Fourth: Technological sovereignty and the potentials of digitalization, e.g. in artificial intelligence and quantum technology, for data-based solutions across all sectors.
Fifth: Exploration of space and oceans and creation of sustainable uses.
Sixth: Social resilience, gender equity, cohesion, democracy and peace.
Less staging, more solid craftsmanship.
The silent industrious concentration and humility before the task at hand in times of feverish excitement that have prevailed in the coalition negotiations are surely the better approach to positioning the new government. And there, for all its restraint, a new way of shaping policy seems to be emerging: Less staging, more results-oriented moderation on the merits.
That’s something we can all look forward to – and leverage to campaign for better, effective policies. Because the new diversity in the Bundestag, coupled with the new program, gives all reason to “Dare More Progress” and actively participate in the policy formulation. Or in the words of John F. Kennedy: “Don’t ask what the government can do for you.” Just do and be part of the conversation.