Cablegate: First German "Jamaica" Coalition Government Takes

DE RUEHFT #2978/01 3211632
O 171632Z NOV 09





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: First German "Jamaica" Coalition Government Takes

1.(SBU)Summary: Saarland's Jamaica coalition is writing political
history in Germany. The first German three-party "Jamaica"
coalition government made up of Christian Democrats (CDU), Free
Liberals (FDP) and the Green Party was sworn into office on November
10 in Saarland. Incumbent Minister President Peter Mueller (CDU)
remains in office with the FDP and Green parties each getting two
ministries. Potential governing challenges lie in how the State
will vote in future Bundesrat sessions. Left Party Caucus Chief,
Oskar Lafontaine, is not expected to play a strong role in the
opposition, since his interests are more national in scope and he is
reported not to be in good health. Germany's political
establishment remains intrigued by the viability of a "Jamaica"
coalition option. Saarland will therefore be closely observed to
see if this political development at the state level has potential
implications for national politics. End Summary.

2. (SBU)Minister-President Peter Mueller and his ministers were in
high spirits when they were sworn in on November 10 with 27 of the
41 Parliamentary seats occupied by members of the CDU-FDP-Green
coalition government (26 seats is a majority). "This is a project
that will influence the political landscape far beyond Saarland,"
said Mueller. FDP Chairman Christoph Hartmann stressed that the new
government is a "huge success in the FDP's history." CDU
Parliamentarian Roland Theis, however, noted that Saarland provided
a unique venue for this "experiment" since the state's small size
meant that personal connections between politicians (and the
population in general) made them more willing to work with
non-traditional political partners.

3. (SBU)The Green Party was very content with achieving 5.9 percent
of the vote in the August 30 election. They will control two
ministries -- including the Ministry of the Environment - the same
number as the FDP, which had 11.9 percent of the vote. The Greens
prevailed on core issues within the coalition agreement, with the
CDU and FDP agreeing with the government's pre-2000 nuclear
decommissioning agreement. (Note: This conflicts with the
CDU/CSU-FDP national coalition agreement. End note.) The coalition
agreement also calls for the elimination of fees for university
students. Green Party members denied that they had become too
centrist by joining a coalition with the CDU and FDP. Green
parliamentarian Markus Schmitt was visibly upbeat when he said that
"the Green Party is left, right and in the middle. The time of
putting the Greens in one corner is over." For Georg Jungmann,
deputy caucus chief of the CDU, the Green party has now achieved a
centrist "power position" able to form coalitions with the left or
the right.

4.(SBU)Heiko Maas, head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and now
opposition leader in the State Parliament, was visibly disturbed by
the November 10 ceremony. He left the parliament shortly after the
ceremony and declined to comment to the media. Cornelia
Hoffmann-Bethscheider, deputy caucus chief of the SPD, told
Consulate representatives that the Green Party's Chairman Hubert
Ulrich had planned the Jamaica coalition from the start and was
never really open to a SPD-Green-Left Party coalition (so-called
Red-Red-Green). Left Party parliamentarian Barbara Spaniol echoed
this sentiment. However, Spaniol said that the Left Party did not
need the Greens anyway and is looking forward to keeping the new
governing coalition on its toes by working in opposition to them.

5.(SBU)Oskar Lafontaine, Left Party Caucus Chief in Saarland and
co-chair of the national party, was not present for the ceremony as
he was in Berlin for Chancellor Merkel's Bundestag speech. One CDU
and one SPD source told Consulate Representatives that they expect
Lafontaine to leave the Left caucus sometime next year since
Lafontaine's health is not good. They also indicated that
Lafontaine might retire from politics in the not too distant future,
although specifics were lacking.

6. (SBU) The three-party Jamaica coalition government may prove
challenging for future votes in the Bundesrat where Saarland has
three votes. These votes must (by law) always be submitted as a
block. If required to vote on an issue in the Bundesrat where the
CDU/FDP and Greens do not traditionally agree, such as nuclear power
plant decommissioning, it is unclear how Saarland will vote.
Mueller, who will lead the Bundesrat delegation, will be bound by
his Jamaica coalition agreement to vote against any effort by the
federal CDU and FDP government to extend the timeline for

FRANKFURT 00002978 002 OF 002

decommissioning German nuclear power plants. As it seems unlikely
that he will vote against his own CDU federal party, Saarland may be
forced to abstain in such a vote. Subsequently, if coalition
governments start abstaining from votes in the Bundesrat due to
similar concessions made in state-level coalition governments, this
will provide new challenges overall in governance in Germany.

7. (SBU) Comment: The first three-party coalition government in
Germany's history may be a necessary consequence of the emerging
five party system in Germany, but it is too early to know if this
trend will continue. Equally interesting is whether the Green Party
will continue to serve as the "kingmaker" in future coalition
negotiations, given that they are able to work with both sides of
the political spectrum. With the Greens aligned with the CDU and
FDP, the Saarland SPD faces an unclear future as it may have lost
its "natural" coalition partner. End Comment.

8. (U) This cable has been coordinated with US Embassy Berlin.


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