Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

After Merkel: German Elections 2021

by Bernard Fri Sep 24th, 2021 at 08:46:08 PM EST

Next Sunday, September 26, German voters will renew their Federal parliament, the Bundestag.

Angela Merkel, aka Mutti, aka the Queen of Europe, is retiring after 16 years at the helm as Federal Chancellor, so this is a momentous event, not only for Germany but for the all or Europe.

There are (most likely) two possible names for her replacement: Olaf Scholz from the SPD or Armin Laschet from the CDU, Merkel's party.


Present polls, for what it's worth:

SPD - Socialist Party (symbol color: red): 25%

CDU & CSU (Bavaria) - Christian Democrats (symbol color: black): 21%

Die Grünen - Greens (symbol color: green, obviously): 16 %

FDP - Liberal Party (symbol color: yellow): 11%

AfD - Extreme Right (symbol color: blue): 11%

Die Linke - The Left (symbol color: purple): 6%

The Bundestag seats are assigned in proportion to the votes received, so the nationwide percentage should match more or less the number of seats won by each party, but there is a threshold of 5% of the vote to get any seat at all, and there are other rules that I couldn't possibly explain, but may result in a number of extra seats that cannot be known in advance.


No party is expected to win an outright majority of seats by itself, so there will be yet another coalition government. The current Grand Coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD is not expected to last into the next term, but everything is possible. The German media are generally describing the possible party combinations using each party's symbol color: black for CDU, red for SPD and so on... Some of the possible coalitions are:

GroKo: the present coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD, as unlikely as it is: a lot of bad blood between the parties.

Jamaica, after the Jamaican flag colors: CDU (black), FDP (yellow) and the Greens.

Traffic light: SPD (red), FDP (yellow) and the Greens.

Kenya, after the Kenyan flag colors: CDU (black), SPD (red) and the Greens.

RGR (red-green-red), this one getting together the SPD (Red), the Greens and The Linke (purple)

Once the elections are over, it is expected that coalition talks will take quite a bit of time before a government - and Merkel successor - is agreed upon, several weeks at least, if not months. As it is the custom in German politics, a coalition contract detailing each and every minute detail of each element of policy, which party gets which position, will be drafted, reviewed and finally signed by the future coalition members.

The next Federal Chancellor

Since the Socialists are leading in the polls, the front-runner to succeed Merkel at the chancellorship is Olaf Scholz, the head of the SPD, and, interestingly enough, the present German Finance minister in the Federal government headed by Angela Merkel, thanks to the famous GroKo, the Große Koalition currently in power.

Armin Laschet, the CDU candidate, is not as widely appreciated by the German voters, despite Merkel's best efforts to support him, and his party is trailing the SPD in the polls.

Green party's Annalena Baerbock is another possibility, but with the Greens likely to end up in third place, it is unlikely they will secure the chancellorship, despite having peaked above the CDU and SPD in the polls last spring.

In any case, the environment, such as the controversial development of coal mines, and climate issues, following the catastrophic floodings last summer, are expected to gain more prominence, even with the aging German population.

What consequences for Europe?

Obviously, the departure of a major figure like Merkel in Europe's biggest economy and most populated country, will mark the end of an era, to use a tired cliché.

While coalition talks may take weeks, if not months, before a new German cabinet is eventually put in place, it is expected that Macron, the ambitious French president, will somehow take Merkel's lead in the EU27 - or at least, will try to.

The new government may also change some of the Merkel era's political positions, such as a delicate balance between the USA (who have a major military presence in Germany), Russia (with the NordStream 2 gas pipeline just completed) and China, the major export market for the German industry.

Macron Initiatives as France Takes EU Presidency

After Merkel, France could try to edge out Germany as Europe's `superpower' | CNBC |

Macron is likely to attempt to become Europe's central figurehead once Merkel leaves, analysts say, and has been positioning himself to achieve that for a while.

One thing that might mollify Germany, Brzeski noted, was that it knows that Macron has his own presidential battles to come, with a French presidential election due next April.

"This will leave less time for strong European leadership initiatives, even though France will have the EU presidency next year," Brzeski said.

    France will use its EU presidency in the first half of 2022 to promote its ideas on Europe. Fortunately for Macron, many of the key people in Brussels are sympathetic to France. Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission president, Charles Michel, the European Council president, and Josep Borrell, the High Representative for foreign policy, owe their jobs to Macron's support. They are at the very least open to French thinking. In Frankfurt the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, happens to be French.

Analysts say Macron would likely favor working with Scholz over Laschet, the candidate put forward by the ruling conservative CDU-CSU bloc as a successor to Merkel.

"Of the two leading Chancellor-candidates, sources in the Elysee suggest Macron would be comfortable with either man, but has a slight preference for Scholz, who has already, as federal finance minister, worked closely with Paris on the ground-breaking EU post-Covid recovery fund."

Economic clout

While Macron might find he's compatible with the next German chancellor when it comes to a common approach to EU policy, one area where France would find it hard to equal Germany is in terms of economic clout.

In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, almost a quarter of the EU's gross domestic product (24.7%) was generated by Germany, followed by France (17.4%) and Italy (12.8%), ahead of Spain (8.9%) and the Netherlands (5.8%), according to Eurostat.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte has a dented ego after a number of domestic political failures. He was not well liked by both Merkel and Macron and attempts to be the liberal voice for the "smaller" EU States. The Dutch are seen as the Anglo-American doormat into the EU. However, the Dutch are very dependent on Germany's economic power.

The UK led the EU's economic liberals in resisting France's penchant for protectionism and an active industrial policy. Now the Dutch sometimes try to lead the Nordic, Baltic and other pro-market countries, but with less authority than did the British.

Dutch-German relations under Merkel: achievements & threats

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Sep 25th, 2021 at 07:48:51 AM EST
If the result comes close to the polling, the SPD has many options:
GroKo 46% vs 44% for the opposition
Traffic light: 52% vs 38%
Red-Green-Red: 47% vs 43%

However, if CDU does a bit worse GroKo is out and if Linke misses 5% Red-Green-Red is out. Traffic lights is the most stable combination numbers wise, but might be less stable considering political content. Kenya consisting of the three largest parties is stale numbers wise, but I think would have lots of internal tension.

Thanks for the write-up, we will see tomorrow!

by fjallstrom on Sat Sep 25th, 2021 at 11:55:38 AM EST
I've tried to read more about the electoral system on Wiki: Constituency vote (first vote) and a party list vote (second vote), overhang seats, leveling seats...

I don't think I really understood it :-) besides the fact this is a mix of proportional system and FPTP consistency based voting.

The interesting thing is also that the total number of seats is variable too: even though the nominal number of seats is 598, the current 19th Bundestag has a total of 709 members, making it the largest Bundestag to date (Wiki).

This may have an impact on the number of seats required to reach a majority? In that case, the current Bundestag majority would be 355 votes instead of 300.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Sep 25th, 2021 at 12:17:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The distribution system is a bit complex (unless you are German I suppose), but it gives a result in seats that is very proportional to vote share.

Running seats/votes for the last election gives 7.46-7.53 seats per percentage of the vote with the slight advantage going to the smallest parties. So unless things are very even I think one can count with the percentages. If percentages in votes matches percentages in polls is another question.

by fjallstrom on Sat Sep 25th, 2021 at 08:44:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is remarkable that Merkel is now seen as having been the leader of Europe, not to say Leader of the free world, when for much of her Chancellorship she was seen as an overly cautious, incremental, figure who specialised in side-lining all possible rivals.

Her decisions to admit almost a million refugees and close all nuclear power stations may have changed that perception, and may only have been possible because of her image as a "safe pair of hands". Nevertheless it is difficult to point to any signature achievements in her long reign, other than than providing stability in a period of crises.

Perhaps it is a salutary reminder that political leaders can do as much harm as good and that the old medical aphorism "First, do no harm" can be a good guide to politics as well.

She is warmly regarded in Ireland because of her support for the Peace Process and during Brexit, and for her visit to the Border where she empathised from her experience of the border in Germany which seemed genuinely heartfelt.

It is no small achievement for a German leader to be so widely liked and respected if not admired. It is difficult to see Macron achieving a similar status.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 10:04:26 AM EST
Close all nuclear power sations and instead rely on Russia for energy (replacing non-carbon with carbon based), Not a good decision in my view.
In fact, a disastrous decision for Germany and the world.
Ranks right up there with the US decision to outsource all real manufacturing to China in order to add more billions to already filthy rich billionaires.
by StillInTheWilderness on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 06:07:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuclear was replaced by wind and solar.

Lets see if I manage to include an image here:

Otherwise, here is a link to a wikipedia article with nices images, but anyway it boils down to over the last 30 years: nuclear down by about half, fossile down a bit, renewables up more than nuclear and fossile has declined.

by fjallstrom on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 06:34:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So why Nordstream2? I don't have links, but I've read that the need for Nat gas was because the nukes were shut down.  It seems that Germany could have been near carbon free with nukes, wind, and solar but chose to save money by importing nat gas, which from any source is not only CO2 producing but any escaped gas is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2.
by StillInTheWilderness on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 07:13:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coal is still playing an important part with phaseout not until 2038, almost two decades from now.

The figures are from 2018-2019:

Coal in Germany

Power generation from coal has long served German industry, and despite Germany's reputation as an ecological role model, the cheap, carbon-intensive fossil fuel is still an important pillar of the country's power supply. Hard coal and lignite have a share of 35.3 percent in German power production (compared to 35.2% from renewables, 11.7% from nuclear and 12.8% from natural gas in 2018). Altogether, the energy sector is responsible for a large share of Germany's greenhouse gas emissions (37 percent).

A phase-out of coal power is at the heart of debates on how Germany can reach its climate targets, particularly after the Ministry for Environment warned in autumn 2017 that the country was falling short of its 2020 emissions reduction target by a wide margin.

But since the beginning of 2021, coal generation is rising again:

Germany 2021: coal generation is rising, but the switch to gas should continue

As news across Europe shows, a combination of factors is seeing coal powered electricity generation on the increase. Simon Göss at cr.hub, writing for Energy Brainpool, takes a close look at what's going on in Germany. The post-pandemic demand bounce-back, low generation from wind due to calm weather, and record high gas prices have made coal more competitive. That's even with rising prices for CO2 and record high prices for coal (caused by supply restrictions due to strikes and weather events in Colombia and Australia). Coal's return is helped by gas prices in the EU tripling since the beginning of the year due to the cold winter and spring, low storage levels, fewer deliveries from Russia and more LNG deliveries going to Asia. But it is unlikely to be a sign of coal's return, says Göss. Coal generation is still below 2019 levels. And the generation costs of hard coal-fired power plants are in most cases still higher than that of modern and efficient gas-fired power plants*. Meanwhile, lignite-fired power plants are still slipping into loss which should mean its replacement either by higher gas generation or higher electricity imports.

*ADDED Friday 24th Sep: Simon Göss explains that as of 24/9/21 gas prices topped 70 EUR/MWh. That means coal is now cheaper than all gas plants in Germany. How long this lasts, only time will tell. The expectation is that once the gas shortage ends and its price drops below 40-50 EUR/MWh and with carbon staying at its current level, the switch from coal to gas will continue.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 09:05:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Will China's move against coal power improve its image in EU?
QUESTIONS REMAIN whether he meant China will cease financing coal plants overseas or merely stop building them construction, a far less impressive pledge.

South Korea and Japan said earlier this year that they would stop funding financing coal-fired power plants abroad. Together with China the three Asian countries account for 95% of all foreign financing for coal-fired power plants worldwide, according to a report by Georgetown University.

Chinese companies to build 700 coal plants in and outside China, 2017
P&E sales and "domestic aversion to coal"

reference (not Georgetown)
Global Energy Monitor
--Global Coal Plant Tracker

----Global ownership of coal plants, by nation of incorporation
----New Coal Plants by Country (MW), 2000-2021
operating in India+China, outside India, outside China (ROW total, ROW by nation)

by Cat on Tue Sep 28th, 2021 at 02:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good question. I think what is driving North stream is to prevent a disruption in gas supplies.

Gas powered plants are flexible and can be turned on or off as the system demands it. It is therefore - together with oil and hydro - very useful as top load, no matter if you are running lots of base load in the form of nuclear and coal, or intermittent in the form of solar and wind.

So even though just above 10% of Germanys electricity is from gas, it is an important part. North Sea gas is running out, UK and Netherlands that owns most of it and uses gas heavily can be expected to prioritise themselves. Pipelines through Ukraine has a political risk. LNG from US is expensive and also has a political price. So North stream it is.

Better alternatives would be pumped storage or otherwise try to eliminate the need for gas, but that is not the course Germany has set.

by fjallstrom on Tue Sep 28th, 2021 at 11:16:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another bad result of Brexit.
by StillInTheWilderness on Tue Sep 28th, 2021 at 07:53:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it might be worth pointing out that the concept of "base load" and "variable (top) load" are the result of conscious decisions made during the development of the electrical power system.

If you build a thermal plant (coal, oil, or nuclear energy with steam boilers and turbines), you run into a problem in that the components do not like to cycle from hot to warm to hot to warm. Thermal cycling like that causes them to wear out.

The solution to that is to develop a tariff or rate structure that encourages customers to use electricity during times when there is excess. For example, at night or on weekends, when traditional factories are closed. You end up with a situation where factories operate 24/7 because the cost of the overtime wages is offset by lower electricity cost. You encourage people to charge their electric cars at night "because the cost of electricity is lower then." But that is the result of how the rate structure is set up in order to protect the generating plant infrastructure.

Another way to approach it is to accept that the availability of electricity will vary depending on sunlight or wind, and to develop a rate structure that reflects that variability. Such a tariff encourages customers to deal with the variable supply by implementing demand management. Most factory operations, with the exception of certain types of furnaces (that do not like to be thermally cycled), can be curtailed or modified to align with variable electricity supply. Certainly most households can do the same thing.

The bottom line is that it is important to keep in mind that the idea of "base load" is an artificial construct that is in place primarily to protect a certain technology choice. That is why you need a natural gas supply: to protect the old-fashioned thermal plants that should now be retired.

by asdf on Thu Sep 30th, 2021 at 06:03:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Comparison of Solar and Wind Power Generation Impact on Net Load across a Utility Balancing Area

For office buildings and utility the type of electric load can be an issue.

LED lighting is quite different from fluorescent lighting requiring load ballast.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Sep 30th, 2021 at 07:18:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, there are tons of articles on this topic.

The details of the engineering problem are more complicated than just achieving a sufficient net energy supply. The article mentioned above lists

  • bulk energy
  • frequency regulation
  • primary frequency response
  • secondary frequency response
  • tertiary frequency response
  • inertial service
  • operating reserve
  • system restart
  • voltage support
  • capacity

Even this is a limited list, because it leaves off issues of rate equity, emergency response times, security, and a host of other things...
by asdf on Thu Sep 30th, 2021 at 10:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The impact of growing IT sector electricity demand

IT sector electricity demand is expected to grow by 50 percent by 2030, reaching a total of 3,200TWh, according to a forecast that looks at the main - certain - IT technology developments and considers the progress and challenges on an electricity usage level.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Oct 2nd, 2021 at 01:09:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another way to approach it is to accept that the availability of electricity will vary depending on sunlight or wind, and to develop a rate structure that reflects that variability.

Replace "electricity" with "energy" and you're talking about the world we used to live in for thousands of years all the way until late 19th - early 20th century. Should be achievable. Again.
by pelgus on Fri Oct 1st, 2021 at 06:24:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Memory Lane just 80 years ago ...

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Oct 1st, 2021 at 10:50:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Oct 5th, 2021 at 08:44:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One result that seems certain is that Angela Merkel didn't secure her successor.

Andenpakt (CDU) - Wikipedia

Der Rheinischen Post zufolge ist Armin Laschet seit Herbst 2018 Mitglied des Andenpakts.[16]

The Andenpakt was basically the anti-Merkel faction in the CDU, if my memory isn't too murky.

by generic on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 01:04:45 PM EST

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 04:15:09 PM EST
An important reminder: these early exit polls, by pollsters for German public broadcasters, do not include postal ballots, which experts say could make up more than 40% of the total votes cast compared to about 29% in the previous 2017 elections.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 04:43:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So postal ballot fraud will determine the result.
How American!
by StillInTheWilderness on Tue Sep 28th, 2021 at 07:55:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Patriarchy Strikes Back? Iceland's Historic Female-Majority Parliament Up in Smoke After Recount
"Early vote counts showed that 33 of the 63 seats in the Althing, the Icelandic parliament, were won by women, which was hailed as a milestone. ... Following a recount in the western part of the country, the result was altered, handing the parliamentary majority back to men."
by Cat on Tue Sep 28th, 2021 at 08:09:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
48% women (30 seats) still. Other countries are lagging far behind.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Sep 28th, 2021 at 08:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except Rwanda
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 29th, 2021 at 04:45:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda leads the world with women making up 61% of its Chamber of Deputies, with Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico narrowly over the 50% mark. Worldwide, the organization says just over a quarter of legislators are women.
Venn diagram story developing ...
by Cat on Wed Sep 29th, 2021 at 02:59:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could be a nailbiter on which party is largest (and gets to form and lead coalition according to political norms in Germany).
by fjallstrom on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 06:40:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coalition crazy: Here's how Germany's new government could shake out

What is the chance of a new Grand Coalition but now with Olaf Scholz as Chancellor 😁

The latest on DW News

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 06:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
22:00 from DW:

A total of 730 seats (!) in the Bundestag:

CDU/CSU: 195
SPD:     205
Afd:      84
FDP:      91
Linke:    40
Greens:  115

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Sep 26th, 2021 at 08:16:24 PM EST
The Irish Times is reporting that Die Linke have secured only 4.9% of the vote and will only have three directly elected MPs in the new parliament, - although I suppose the postal vote could still change that.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 08:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German sources - like DW above - is still reporting 39 seats and 4.9%.

Could it be that because they got 5.0% of the direct votes they still pass the hurdle?

by fjallstrom on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 09:04:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The hurdle is 5% OR 3 seats, so they're in.

(In NZ, its 5% or 1 seat).

by IdiotSavant on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 09:20:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Irish Times is also reportng that:

The centre-right party leader Armin Laschet insisted after polls closed that he can still be chancellor in a "future alliance" with the FDP and Greens.

This is interesting as it is within the rules, but not within the norms. If he insists that is the case, a GroKo becomes less liekly and FDP+Greens could play out the two big ones against each other (assuming the FDP and Greens realise this and can agree between each other). Another way this can go is that internal enemies of Laschet uses it as cause to depose him.

by fjallstrom on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 09:21:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greens and FDP have already agreed to begin talks on their own.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 11:23:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What interests do Greens and FDP share?
by Cat on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 07:50:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a lot, according to DW:

The basic perception is that the FDP and the Greens have similar voters (young, urban, well-educated) and much in common in social policy, but are a long way apart on economic policy.

That at least was the conclusion of a Berlin Social Science Center's (WZB) analysis of the parties' manifestoes: The Greens and the FDP both have broadly progressive ideas about socio-cultural issues like gender and racial equality and human rights, but lean different ways on economic solutions to social problems. 

And, well, that's about it.

More than that, they could hardly be further apart on what surveys said was the biggest issue in this election campaign: The climate crisis. 

The FDP has the least ambitious climate target of all the major German parties -- committing only to get the country carbon neutral by 2050, via emission trading schemes, while the Green party wants Germany to be carbon neutral by 2041, and wants to shut down Germany's remaining coal power stations by 2030, eight years ahead of the country's current target.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 08:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Tue Sep 28th, 2021 at 01:42:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Politico.eu | Mystery solved!
1. Civil rights and national security
2. Education and digitalization
3. European and foreign policy
4. Climate
by Cat on Fri Oct 1st, 2021 at 12:05:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 01:33:30 AM EST
Federal election 2021: A tight fit for the left - Wissler and Bartsch miss direct mandates

The left wins three direct mandates and moves safely into parliament. This means that the party will again be represented in parliamentary groups in the upcoming Bundestag - even if it fails to pass the five percent hurdle. The MPs Gregor Gysi and Gesine Lötzsch in Berlin and Sören Pellmann in Leipzig can defend their direct mandates.

Janine Wissler, the top candidate of Die Linke, has to fear that her party will enter parliament after the federal election in 2021. She missed out on a direct mandate. Dietmar Bartsch, top candidate of the left for the federal election in 2021, missed the direct mandate in constituency 14 Rostock - Rostock II district.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 07:40:06 AM EST
Wieso die Linke mit weniger als fünf Prozent im Bundestag landet

The Left won at least three direct seats in the federal elections. It will therefore be represented in the new Bundestag again with parliamentary groups if it should fail at the five percent hurdle.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 09:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bavarian Earthquake: Big losses for the CSU and SPD, big wins for the Greens and AfD | Oct. 2018 |

Strong showing Green Party in Bavaria

Söder frustration after CSU debacle - He railed against the SPD

The CSU has a historically bad result in the federal election in Bavaria in 2021. A second vote share of 31.7 percent is the weakest result since 1949 - and thus the second worst ever. Prime Minister Markus Söder's party has lost 7.1 percentage points compared to the last federal election four years ago. Markus Söder also seems to have identified someone responsible for the bad result of the CSU.

CDU/CSU - Die Unionsparteien bei der Bundestagswahl 2021

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 08:34:59 AM EST
by Oui (Oui) on Thu Sep 30th, 2021 at 05:59:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FDP a coalition partner for the SPD and Greens?

Germany's kingmaker, the FDP, is set to return to government

Germany's Free Democratic Party sees a chance to join a coalition government after this year's election. The pro-free market party advocates lower taxes, more civil liberties, and cutting back the welfare state.

A new, more radical manifesto

The FDP ship has steadied since then, placing many respected ministers and concentrating on its core values: Liberalism on both the economy and on social values. 'There's never been more that needs to get done' was the FDP campaign motto. The party is in favor of restricting unemployment benefits, expanding equal rights for same-sex couples, expanding educational opportunities, and ensuring personal data is protected. 

Personal freedom, and restricting the power of the state, have been the party's guiding principles. The FDP wants to combat climate change by promoting new technolgies and it has promised to accelerate Germany's sluggish digitalization drive.  

The FDP's natural voters are the same as the Green party's -- younger, politically centrist professionals living in cities, unmoored both from the traditional working-class voter base of the SPD and the traditional Christian voter base of the CDU. But unlike the Greens, for whom gender equality and diversity are core values, the FDP has been criticized for not diversifying its white, male image.

Olaf Schulz urges coalition with Greens and FDP. In statement declares the Union CDU/CSU as opposition party, it's time for change. Good luck ... with FDP?

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 08:36:10 AM EST

Seems to be final results. In the preliminary exit poll, the postal votes were absent.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 08:45:47 AM EST

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 11:55:59 AM EST

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Sep 27th, 2021 at 12:57:07 PM EST
Traffic light, the announced probable outcome, will be a disaster for Europe and... for the planet.

The FDP will die in the trenches fighting for reduced budget deficits and borrowing, which will sink any concrete possibility of a (necessarily debt-financed) real Energiewende.

The FDP is lukewarm at best on global warming, big on gas, nuclear and the internal combustion engine lobby. Nothing good will come of that.

Sadly, the SDP lacks the internal fortitude to govern with a left majority.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 29th, 2021 at 01:00:36 PM EST
However, they are the smallest of the three presumed coalition members. They may have nuisance power, but how much is it going to matter?

Here, we could insert a line about extremely contentious political traditions in France as opposed to consensus driven political traditions in Germany. Actually, looking back at the Merkel years, kicking the can down the road seems to be the most likely default option...

by Bernard (bernard) on Wed Sep 29th, 2021 at 06:51:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The SDP, Greens and Die Linke are 5 seats short of an overall majority, and so could only form a minority Government which might be unstable. However it would take the combined votes of the CDU/CSU, FDP and AfD to defeat them on any issue.

Would the opprobrium heaped on the CDU/CSU and FDP for combining with the AfD be more damaging for them than the SDP/Greens linking up with Die Linke, with swing voters?

It seems to me, in policy terms, the SDP/Greens have more in common with Die Linke than they have with the FDP, (especially now that the Die Linke are in a relatively weak bargaining position).

So could the SDP/Greens form a coalition with Die Linke and dare the CDU/CSU and FDP to bring it down with AfD support? It may not be their first option, but some back channel communications could continue in case negotiations with the FDP break down.

The SDP need more than one option if they are not to be held hostage by the FDP...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Oct 1st, 2021 at 02:41:45 PM EST

Germany's Greens and FDP enter second round of preliminary talks

    The kingmakers in a potential coalition government are trying to find common ground and say negotiations will concentrate on policy issues. Both will enter separate bilateral talks with the SPD and CDU next week.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Oct 1st, 2021 at 09:22:35 PM EST
The two parties favored by younger voters (although older voters are the fastest growing demographics).

Negotiations going on, and on...

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Oct 2nd, 2021 at 01:44:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i won't show the meme where this same picture is singing "We Are Family."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Oct 2nd, 2021 at 07:28:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Katrin on Sat Oct 2nd, 2021 at 08:45:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

From the user guide: if you want to embed a Youtube video:

((youtube iAE6dCE7URg))

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Oct 2nd, 2021 at 08:55:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've seen it, but didn't know what they were singing. Thanks for the tip :)

How would Die Grünen participation in the future coalition would affect the Energiewende?

I'm seeing more and more noise from the pro-nuclear advocates, claiming that nuclear power plants are the only "non-Amish" way to limit global warning; in France (expected), but also in Englis language media...

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Oct 2nd, 2021 at 08:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't take that nuke-noise very seriously. Nobody can seriously expect a revival of nuclear power, seeing that it is the most dangerous, most expensive way of producing energy and problems for the next few thousand years.

I take it as lobbyism for last century's big power stations instead of renewables. Like the tactics kids use (at least in jokes): "if you want a dog and your parents refuse, say that you want a sibling or two. Then they will buy a dog to make the kid shut up."

The Greens in government will inevitably push for wind and solar (because it makes sense, and because that is where their donors sit anyway). Nuclear power is absolutely unacceptable to them (and to the vast majority of the population). Everything else would kill them in the next elections (and that is not only federal elections). The only question is, if they will agree to long phase-outs for coal and for gas-driven traffic, and cardom in general.

Then, of course, what will they do for social rights in a government with FDP and whichever of the large parties. I should rather say "what will they do against social rights", I think.

The future with a Green party that is as right-wing as the German Greens does not look well. A future without them doesn't either, though. They may agree to a policy of pushing for renewables and some more railways while not overly disturbing the car industry, combined with throwing the poorer third of the population under the bus. That would disappoint large numbers of their voters, but there is no party in sight that would do better.

Sorry that I can't contribute some optimistic content.

by Katrin on Sun Oct 3rd, 2021 at 07:38:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One real advantage of nukes is that they can directly replace a coal-fired plant. Both use steam generators with similar characteristics, both support the fake "base load" concept built into the current rate structures, both connect into the existing centralized power station grid infrastructure. Also it is a "known" technology (with both pros and cons), so can be installed with using an existing, predictable regulatory process.

Changing from coal to wind or solar is complicated. You have to deal with the variability, with the lack of inertial supply, with the rate structure, and you have to run a bunch of new power lines.

I am not defending nuclear power because I think it is the wrong way to go. Also I think that the anti-nuke community would make that "existing, predictable regulatory process" a lot less predictable. But if you want to implement an immediate crash program to get off coal and onto a carbon-free (not accounting for the massive carbon emissions associated with construction) power system, nukes do have some advantages over distributed sources.

by asdf on Sun Oct 3rd, 2021 at 10:10:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a main problem for nuclear power now is economics. Within the electricity market as it is constructed today, nuclear has a problem.

Gas or hydro or whatever is used as topload, is turned on when prices are high and of when prices are low, so they get the high rates. Nuclear and wind and solar are price takers, they run normally as much as they can (which for nuclear is static (or down for maintenance) and for wind and solar is variable).

So nuclear competes within the same market segment as wind and solar which has extremely low marginal costs in operation, and is cheaper to install. Absent massive subsidies or a re-worked market structure new nuclear isn't economically viable.

Of Sweden's twelve reactors, two were closed by political decisions - Barsebäck in 2005 - and of the remaining ten, four is either closed or are shutting down because they are not commercially viable and the cost of getting them up to date was prohibitive. The last six - the newest ones - have undergone extensive renovation.  The closed ones couldn't compete with wind power as investment, and this was already existing plants were, although a lot would be replaced, the site and the plant itself already existed, and the company was renovating other plants.

by fjallstrom on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 08:45:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US, at least, nukes are considered part of the "base load" supply. It is not the reactor that is the problem, it is the boiler and the piping and the turbines that do not like to be thermally cycled. And those parts are pretty much the same in a coal or nuclear plant.

Solar and wind can be curtailed, but are not counted as "dispatchable" power because they cannot be turned on at any time (solar, only in the day; wind, only if it is windy). A gas-turbine can be started from cold in a few minutes.

I think there are some terminology problems, but that is how they are categorized in the US industry.

by asdf on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 06:24:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The terminology is fine - topload, baseload, intermittent.

As a note: The technologies used as topload can for practical purposes also be used as baseload, and if overbuilt, technologies normally placed in the baseload bin or the intermittent bin can be used to load balance if you set up the system to spill power. And a large enough intermittent grid would go towards a pretty stable average. But let's stick with the conventional terms for now.

Even though the grid is built for baseload plus topload the market, at least in EU, is built around getting paid (and paying) per kWh, with the price set by demand and supply at each moment. And in such a market baseload has no advantage on intermittent, they both simply get the average price over time, so the difference is on the cost side where wind now has the advantage.

The external costs of adapting the grid is laid at the feet of the entity responsible for the grid, but then again they tend to have monopolies, so they manage.

At least in Sweden, we have had this market system since the early 90ies, so my guess is neoliberalism + EU. Other markets are possible, we had a very different energy market before the 90ies, but I don't think a fundamental reform is likely.

by fjallstrom on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 08:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"One real advantage of nukes is that they can directly replace a coal-fired plant."

Define "directly". Re-activate old nuclear power stations that have been shut? They would still go through a process of applying for permits, trying to get staff etc. And that for stations that are old and mostly beyond their scheduled life. It doesn't sound very realistic, and would take longer than installing the same capacity in wind and solar.

And that's not even talking of new nukes. Planning periosds of 30 years and longer, I guess, and we are not even talking of costs and political costs.

Nuclear power in Germany is dead, and that is a good thing. I doubt that it can be re-vived elsewhere, too.

by Katrin on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 09:27:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to be pro-nuclear in 80s, turn anti-nuclear in the 90s and finally turned nuclear-apathetic while watching the slow unfolding of the satire know as Olkiluoto number 3.

Currently 13 years behind schedule, they hope to finally produce power to grid next year. But there has already been 17 delays, so nobody's holding their breath.

The other new Finnish nuclear power plant, Hanhikivi, is currently 5 years behind schedule, and they haven't even started the construction yet.

To me it looks like nuclear power is it's own worst enemy.

by pelgus on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 10:41:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its own worst enemy indeed: you can add Flamanville 3 in France (10 years delay and over €10B overrun) and Hinley Point in the UK to the list.

The nuclear advocates are no longer arguing that nuclear electricity is cheaper, but that it is the only way to achieve our transition to carbon neutral energy, no matter the costs: there are entire careers and positions that depend on that.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 02:15:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you know: just found this in Politico.eu:
FRENCH PUSH NUCLEAR OPTION: Some countries believe that the current squeeze offers an opportunity for more long-term structural change. A letter by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire circulated to ministers ahead of this afternoon's meeting and seen by Playbook, says that "more structural changes could be explored." In particular, he argues that "in the longer term, the European Union should focus on achieving energy independence by investing in all decarbonized means of energy production."

Cuts to the case: Le Maire also makes the argument that nuclear energy should be classified as green by the Commission. "It is important that the European Commission also enables the development of nuclear energy. In this regard, the rapid inclusion of nuclear energy within the European taxonomy framework and in state aid regulations is absolutely necessary."

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 06:36:11 PM EST
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by Oui (Oui) on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 10:56:42 AM EST
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According to your link, VVD is gearing up for massive subsidies.

IIRC, Hinkley's state aid got approved in the end, that is in the court. So maybe Netherlands state aid would also get approval from the Commission. Funny how the right is very flexible about the holy market when it comes to nuclear power.

by fjallstrom on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 09:12:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hinkley Point C: ECJ Confirms Commission's Approval of Aid to Nuclear Energy Plant

No "nuclear exception" from State aid law

Aid in the nuclear sector is at the unique cross-section of two Treaties: The Euratom Treaty and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If, where and how the Euratom supersedes the TFEU is thus a crucial question for aid in the nuclear energy sector.

The General Court accorded a broad scope of application to the Euratom Treaty, in particular Article 106a (3) Euratom Treaty. This provision states that the provisions of the Treaty on European Union and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union shall not derogate from the provisions of the Euratom Treaty. The General Court held that Article 106a (3) of the Euratom Treaty prevented principles of EU environmental law from leading to a negative State aid assessment.

The ECJ departed from this part of the ruling, holding that aid that violated EU environmental law could not be deemed to be compatible with the internal market and could thus not be authorized.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 10:11:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I meant by "nukes directly replacing coal plants" was not the plant itself, which obviously has to get over all sort of regulatory and political hurdles. And cost hurdles, where "too cheap to meter" meets "OMG it is really expensive!"

Instead, I was looking at the grid connection aspect. Large centralized plants, whether fired by coal or oil or atoms, feed into the grid from that centralized location, and the distribution to customers is configured with mostly radial power lines leading to neighborhoods. Distributed supplies, like solar and wind, tend to have their own site grid that collects the power and then feeds it into the distribution grid. But that connection point is not where the old coal plant was, it is out in the boonies somewhere.

So if you have a coal plant and want to replace it with solar and wind, one of the things you need to do is a substantial reconfiguration of the grid. If you drop in a nuke where the coal plant was, the grid wiring is already in place.

Colorado Springs is doing something similar as it replaces its old downtown coal plant. They have shut it off, and are pulling out the coal boilers--but replacing them with gas turbine generators. The gas turbines are meant to be temporary (we'll see!), but the underlying reason for this approach is that the grid as currently configured needs to be fed from that existing location.

An open question is whether they will retain the old generators from the coal system to be used as synchronous condensers, to provide reactive power and freqency inertia.

by asdf on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 06:38:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you can "directly" convert a coal power station by gas, and you have made perfectly clear why this makes sense, temporarily. The same is not true for nuclear, though.

I am a bit baffled how this thread on the end of the Merkel era became focused on nuclear power. It was the red-green government which had decided the (eventual) end of nuclear power in Germany. Merkel revised that when she came into power. The anti-nuke movement immediately re-organised and became a lot stronger. We were furious, and if Merkel wanted a fight, well... We made sure we would be ready for that. Then Fukushima "happened", support for the anti-nuclear movement exploded, and Merkel back-pedalled, because there was no chance for her to win. All our fury and our ideas for activism, and the efforts of organising suddenly were left without an opponent.

I wonder where we would have landed if she hadn't. What impact would the fight against her revival of nuclear power have had on society in general, and the environmentalist movement? Would this fight have moved people to the left, who now had got a chance to remain quiet again?

by Katrin on Mon Oct 4th, 2021 at 08:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If there is a particularly bad winter and widespread blackouts, or a particularly hot summer, or unusually big snowstorms or floods, the "let's just build some nukes" mindset is not far from the surface. That probably applies everywhere.
by asdf on Tue Oct 5th, 2021 at 02:06:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German Politics: Confused, But Self-Righteous, jobs saved or created
Only two of the five parties in the new Bundestag are at all critical of NATO, and they are on the polar margins: the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) on the right and Die Linke (The Left) on the left, outside whichever government emerges. They are the only ones in favor of normalized relations with Russia. Both have at times appealed to neglected East Germans but there is animosity between them.
Biden 2019: "The United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge."

Baerbock 2021: "We urgently need to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of the problems."
Under U.S. tutelage for decades, much of the present German ruling class seems to have interiorized the peculiar American imperial attitude, an arrogant power projection draped in political self-righteousness. This characteristic Anglo-American attitude, forged in the British Empire, is currently to be found in Germany and northern Europe, and will find expression in the virtual "Summit for Democracy" which President Biden is convening in December. This is intended to solidify a new ideological Cold War between the Good, led by the United States, and the Evil--those who are not allowed in the club.

US State Dept |The Summit for Democracy
As President Biden has said, defending America's democratic values is inseparable from advancing our national interest.

On December 9-10, 2021, President Biden will host the first of two Summits for Democracy, which will bring together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.

US President | 11 Aug 2021
by Cat on Wed Oct 6th, 2021 at 07:57:09 PM EST
German small parties pick Social Democrats over conservatives [CDU/CSU] for coalition talks, 7 Oct summit
[Green Party co-leader Robert] Habeck stressed, however, that an SPD-led coalition was "by no means a done deal", as many issues were yet to be thoroughly discussed.

The fact that the Greens are giving precedence to "traffic light" talks was not a "total rejection" for the CDU/CSU, he explained, as the conservatives had shown themselves ready to compromise, including on climate change

by Cat on Wed Oct 6th, 2021 at 08:15:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Oct 10th, 2021 at 06:48:46 PM EST

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