Joschka Stays?

Posted by John Rosenthal

In a bizarre post-election appearance on German public television, Gerhard Schröder refused to consider his SPD entering into a “grand coalition” with the CDU unless he remains Chancellor.  This despite the fact that the CDU/CSU outpolled the SPD and (pending the outcome of an October 2 by-election in Dresden) will presumably have the largest number of seats in the Bundestag.  As several of Schröder’s rivals reminded him during the broadcast, his stance is contrary to Germany’s “democratic traditions”, which give the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the Bundestag the first shot at forming a government.  “Formalities” says the Chancellor.  In any case, Chancellor Schröder already showed what he thinks of Germany’s democratic traditions – which, it should be noted, are relatively young and thereby all the more needful of careful respect – when he called for a staged “no confidence” vote while enjoying a perfectly functional parliamentary majority in order to precipitate the elections.

As David Kaspar has pointed out on Medienkritik , as a result of the Chancellor’s position (and assuming that this position is shared by SPD Party Chair Franz Müntefering), it seems increasingly likely that Angela Merkel will now seek talks with Joschka Fischer’s Green party about forming what is sometimes being dubbed a “Jamaica” coalition after the colors of the Jamaican flag: black (CDU/CSU), gold (the liberal FDP) and green.

Now, traditionally, the second strongest party in a German coalition government is given what is perceived as the second most important post – often the Foreign Minister post, as is the case in the outgoing “red-green” coalition.  However, in a black-gold-green coalition, the Greens would in fact be the third force or the “junior junior” partner, behind the FDP.  But what could induce the Greens to enter into a coalition with two parties whose “social coldness” and ecological irresponsibility they have just spent the last six weeks denouncing?  They are in a position to make demands.  Could they demand that Joschka stays?  From the look on Gerhard Schröder’s face as he listened to Joschka Fischer discussing the possibility of a black-gold-green coalition Sunday night, I am not the only one wondering…

click on image for video from ARD

A propos… : this might be the perfect time to have a look at Matthias Küntzel’s “A Dubious Achievement: Joschka Fischer, the Road Map, and the Gaza Pullout” in the Transatlantic Intelligencer Quarterly.

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