Germany’s ‘traffic light’ parties sign coalition agreement in Berlin

Two and a half months after the federal elections on September 26th, the three parties of the incoming 'traffic light' coalition - the SPD, Greens and FDP - have formally signed their coalition agreement at a public ceremony in Berlin.

Traffic light coalition
Germany's next Chancellor Olaf Scholz (front, left) on stage in Berlin with other members of the new coalition government, and their signed agreement. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

The move marks the final stage of a 10-week week process that saw the three unlikely bedfellows forming a first-of-its-kind partnership in German federal government. 

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz is now due to be elected Chancellor of Germany on Wednesday and his newly finalised cabinet will be sworn in on the same day. This will mark the end of the 16-year Angela Merkel era following the veteran leader’s decision to retire from politics this year. 

Speaking at the ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday morning, Scholz declared it “a morning when we set out for a new government.”

He praised the speed at which the three parties had concluded their talks and said the fight against the Covid crisis would first require the full strength of the new coalition.

Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck, who is set to head up a newly formed environment and energy ministry, said the goal was “a government for the people of Germany”.

He stressed that the new government would face the joint challenge of bringing climate neutrality and prosperity together in Europe’s largest industrial nation and the world’s fourth largest economy.

Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock spoke of a coalition agreement “on the level of reality, on the level of social reality”.

FDP leader Christian Lindner, who managed to secure the coveted role of Finance Minister in the talks, declared that now was the “time for action”.

“We are not under any illusions,” he told people gathered at the ceremony. “These are great challenges we face.”

Scholz, Habeck and Lindner are scheduled to hold  a press conference before midday to answer questions on the goals of the new government.

‘New beginnings’

Together with the Greens and the FDP, Scholz’s SPD managed in a far shorter time than expected to forge a coalition that aspires to make Germany greener and fairer.

The Greens became the last of the three parties to agree on the contents of the 177-page coalition agreement an in internal vote on Monday, following approval from the SPD and FDP’s inner ranks over the weekend.

“I want the 20s to be a time of new beginnings,” Scholz told Die Zeit weekly, declaring an ambition to push forward “the biggest industrial modernisation which will be capable of stopping climate change caused by mankind”.

Putting equality rhetoric into practice, he unveiled the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet on Monday, with women in key security portfolios.

“That corresponds to the society we live in – half of the power belongs to women,” said Scholz, who describes himself as a “feminist”.

READ ALSO: Scholz names Germany’s first gender-equal cabinet

The centre-left’s return to power in Europe’s biggest economy could shift the balance on a continent still reeling from Brexit and with the other major player, France, heading into presidential elections in 2022.

But even before it took office, Scholz’s “traffic-light” coalition – named after the three parties’ colours – was already given a baptism of fire in the form of a fierce fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Balancing act
Dubbed “the discreet” by left-leaning daily TAZ, Scholz, 63, is often described as austere or robotic.
But he also has a reputation for being a meticulous workhorse.
An experienced hand in government, Scholz was labour minister in Merkel’s first coalition from 2007 to 2009 before taking over as vice chancellor and finance minister in 2015.
Yet his three-party-alliance is the first such mix at the federal level, as the FDP is not a natural partner for the SPD or the Greens.

Keeping the trio together will require a delicate balancing act taking into account the FDP’s business-friendly leanings, the SPD’s social equality instincts and the Greens’ demands for sustainability.

Under their coalition deal, the parties have agreed to secure Germany’s path to carbon neutrality, including through huge investments in sustainable energy.

They also aim to return to a constitutional no-new-debt rule – suspended during the pandemic – by 2023.

FDP cabinets
Volker Wissing (l-r), FDP General Secretary und designated Transport Minister, walks alongside Christian Lindner, FDP leader and designated Finance Minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), the incoming Education Minister, and Marco Buschmann, the incoming Justice Minister. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler


Incoming foreign minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens has vowed to put human rights at the centre of German diplomacy.

She has signalled a more assertive stance towards authoritarian regimes like China and Russia after the commerce-driven pragmatism of Merkel’s 16 years in power.

Critics have accused Merkel of putting Germany’s export-dependent economy first in international dealings.

Nevertheless she is still so popular at home that she would probably have won a fifth term had she sought one.

The veteran politician is also widely admired abroad for her steady hand guiding Germany through a myriad of crises.

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Party secretary for Sweden’s Christian Democrats dismissed in ‘me too’ case

Johan Ingerö, the Christian Democrat policy advisor who helped develop its harder, more populist approach, has been dismissed after he was reported to the police for 'some form of molestation' against a party colleague.

Party secretary for Sweden's Christian Democrats dismissed in 'me too' case

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Ingerö said that a close party colleague had recently reported him to the police for “some form of molestation” at a post-election party nine years ago. 

“I have not yet seen the [police] report, but from the little information I have received, I know which occasion it concerns and that what is being claimed is not true.”

Ingerö’s statement ended the questions over why Ingerö was leaving his position with immediate effect less than five months after being appointed party secretary. 

In the press release announcing his departure, the party gave no reason for why he was standing down.  

“His well-documented ability to communicate and his political know-how have come in very handy,” party leader Ebba Busch said. “I want to thank Johan Ingerö for his many years of service to the party and wish him the best of luck for the future.” 

Ingerö was press chief for the Christian Democrats’ former leader Göran Hägglund between 2012 and 2015, when he joined the liberal think tank Timbro, returning to the Christian Democrats as a special policy advisor in 2018, and becoming the party’s press spokesperson in 2022. He was appointed the party secretary on October 23rd last year.  

Ingerö was a combative presence on Swedish political Twitter in the run up to and aftermath of last year’s election, driving his party’s line that the closure of the Ringhals 1 and 2 nuclear power stations was the main reason for high power prices in Sweden. 

In his Facebook statement, Ingerö admitted to having had an alcohol problem at the time of the party where the incident was supposed to have taken place. 

He said that his involvement in an afterparty where “large amounts of spirits were consumed”, was partly because at that time he had been “actively abusing alcohol”. 

“I am writing that because I realise that my past could be held against me, but I have nonetheless not made myself guilty of what has been claimed”. 

He said his past alcohol problems were not a secret, either to party colleagues, journalists or people in other parties and that he had been sober for eight years. 

He said that at the end of January he and his accuser had suffered “a very extensive work-related conflict”, and that up until that point they had got on well, taking fika and eating lunch together regularly. 

“Whatever the facts, the judgement has been taken that I can no longer carry out my duties as party secretary,” he added. “It is of course a great sorry to leave in this way.”