Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Germany's new government sworn in.

 We are in the winter doldrums, when politics slows down in the countries we generally cover. As such, no regular updates, as, nothing has changed, and there is nothing to update. However, one change is the new government of Germany has been sworn in. A list of cabinet members can be found here.

What In find interesting is that the cabinet has 8 SPD members, 5 Green members, and 4 FDP members. Why is this interesting? Because if you went purely based on share of seats in parliament, the SPD would have 9 members, the Greens 5, and the FDP 4. Basically, the Greens and FDP were able to convince the SPD to drop one member. The impact of this is that Cabinet has 8 SPD members and 9 non-SPD members, giving these two parties a majority around the cabinet table. I suspect when I saw the Green and FDP leader smiling at one another during the post-election debate, that this is why. Both knew they had the numbers to make this demand a reality. 

The new government will have 416 members, 210 are from outside the SPD and 206 are from the SPD. From outside the party, 118 are Greens and 92 are FDP. 

Interestingly, in the upper house, the "government" only has 7 seats. In Germany, each state has a certain number of seats in the upper house, and all those seats are under the control of the state coalition government. As such, the 3 members from Hamburg as under the control of the SPD-Green coalition. This means there are not 2 SPD and 1 Green member, but, 3 SPD-Green members. The same is true for the Rhineland-Palatine coalition, which has 4 seats, and the same makeup of the federal coalition. 

I say this is the only "government" members, because all other states have a party outside the government as part of their coalitions. 4 include the left party, while 10 include the CDU/CSU. This means the state CDU parties hold the ability to vote "no" on legislation. However, this 'veto' is only a time lock. The lower house can simply pass the bill again. The 'catch' is that the re-passed bill must have 50%+1 of all lower house members, not just 50%+1 of all voting lower house members. In a coalition of this size, this effectively does not matter, meaning the upper house can only stall bills. The veto, however, is a true veto when it comes to bills that could impact the powers of the individual lander (states). Historically, however, German governments have chosen to work with the upper house to pass legislation rather than against it.

The 416 seat government will be facing off against a 320 seat opposition. A majority of which, 197 members, come from the CDU/CSU coalition. Of those, 152 are from the CDU and 45 are from the CSU. Additional opposition members include 83 AfD members, 39 Left members, and 1 member of the danish minority SSW.

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