About a turning point ago, the SPD, Greens and FDP conjured up the great togetherness. Now the first hangover mood is spreading in the traffic light alliance. That carries risks.

What is left to hold onto? The Greens benefit, the SPD and FDP want to distinguish themselves. And somehow the euphoria of the beginning seems to have given way to a certain disillusionment. But one by one.

About a turning point ago, the SPD, Greens and FDP came together to dare more progress – that was the claim with which the first traffic light coalition at federal level started to rethink and steer the country. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said at the time that they wanted to govern together on an equal footing, and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) agreed with him in order to overcome the status quo together.

Although nothing has changed in the noble goals of the coalition after 174 days in government – and relief packages, the twelve euro minimum wage and now also a 100 billion special fund have been launched -, the initial mentality of the great togetherness first hangover mood in the alliance wide.

Numerous controversial and controversial issues in the traffic light coalition

In any case, the situation is tense. Bluffing cabinet members, electoral failures and disputes are throwing the progressive coalition out of step – in the midst of the Ukraine war and the corona crisis, which are doing the rest.

The pressure on the SPD and FDP in particular is noticeable, as the state elections in May saw two winners in particular: the CDU and the Greens. Both parties are now setting up black-green alliances in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia – the election results were a disgrace for the Social Democrats and Liberals. And of course no tailwind for the traffic light government in the federal government.

Some are bursting with strength, others worry about their profile

The Greens benefit, the SPD and FDP now obviously want to distinguish themselves. “We talked too much about arms deliveries and not enough about rising costs,” said SPD co-leader Lars Klingbeil after the North Rhine-Westphalia election defeat and announced a course correction that would place more emphasis on social issues in the future.

The FDP apparently wants to focus on its core brand, standing for solid finances – the Federal Minister of Finance and party leader Lindner was hardly able to convey this credibly in the end, as he had to incur record debts in view of the war and the corona crisis. “Good economic policy can no longer mean promoting everything possible with state money,” he said on ZDF. It is now about good framework conditions. “In 2023, the debt brake is non-negotiable for me,” said Lindner.

Meanwhile, the Greens are bursting with strength, which should be a belated satisfaction for the party, they sometimes had to make major concessions in the federal government – a speed limit was not enforced, stricter corona rules failed at the FDP. In addition, the Greens clearly moved away from central principles in the course of the Russian war of aggression – like probably no other traffic light party. They are now campaigning, above all Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck and Federal Foreign Minister Baerbock, for armament instead of disarmament and support the construction of liquid gas terminals.

The about-faces, which Habeck in particular communicates in a refreshingly and sometimes shockingly honest way, are apparently appreciated by the voters. Alone: ​​Baerbock and Habeck are the most popular traffic light cabinet members, according to the market research institute Ipsos, while Scholz and Lindner, for example, are losing their reputation. According to an Insa survey for “Bild am Sonntag”, 41 percent of Germans believe that the Greens set the tone at traffic lights. 28 percent see the SPD as the clock, only eleven percent the FDP.

All of this could help the Greens appear with a new self-confidence in the federal government and show themselves to be more power-conscious when it comes to pushing through green issues. For the overall situation, this may mean inconvenience. The focus on one’s own profile could lead to ego stunts that would alienate the traffic light parties. In any case, the progressive coalition did not want the new beginning to be understood in this way.