German Greens vote to start formal coalition talks with SPD, liberals

Three-way party talks still need official approval from the Free Democrats.

German Greens vote to start formal coalition talks with SPD, liberals

A vast majority of the German Greens’ party congress voted in favor of entering formal coalition talks with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), putting Germany one step closer to launching a new government.

Only two delegates out of the 70 total voted Sunday against the negotiations, while one party member abstained.

“We have the chance to take on responsibility and play a decisive role in this government of progress. We are happy to face this responsibility,” the party tweeted shortly after the vote.

If the talks succeed, the three-way coalition would effectively mark the end of 16 years of a conservative-led government under Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had announced plans to retire from politics before September’s vote. That put the Social Democrats, which came first in the election, and their candidate for chancellor, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, in pole position to lead the next government.

The SPD’s party leadership unanimously supported starting the coalition talks Friday, while the FDP’s leadership is set to vote on the negotiations on Monday.

Over the weekend, Green party co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck urged members to vote in favor of the coalition talks, arguing that the paper negotiated between the three parties as a basis for the talks included commitments in favor of “future investments in climate protection, research and education, and digitization.”

The document, unveiled on Friday, includes a proposal to move Germany’s exit from coal from 2038 to 2030; measures to boost the expansion of renewable energy; and the creation of an “immediate climate protection program.”

Although some delegates at the Green party congress questioned if the exploratory paper did enough to address issues like immigration and poverty, Baerbock countered that the Greens would use the negotiations to ask for even greater concessions from their partners in the so-called “traffic light” coalition — named for the parties’ colors of red (SPD), yellow (FDP) and green (the Greens).

“If we want to change something, we need decisions that will support us in the next decade,” Baerbock said. “Our focus is on the big tasks of the future.”