Rather a Grand Coalition than no progress at all

Dear reader,
it has taken quite a while, but the focal subject of this issue of "Perspektiven" finally is Germany's new federal government - and what we can expect from it. Initially, we had envisaged this subject for last December and then for February. Finally, when even within the Social Democrats consent for a Grand Coalition - in German aka GroKo - had been achieved, the editorial deadline for the March/ April issue had elapsed and the nerves of our "Perspektiven" editors' team were already slightly shattered. Thus, our political focal subject comes with a delay commensurate with the GroKo itself. "A good deal takes its time" appears to be valid also in politics.

As to whether one can speak of a "good deal" is being questioned by some. Rather, one should assume that a coalition agreement comprising 177 pages and 8,355 lines should provide quite a bit which is enjoyable. Surely, one cannot expect of a coalition agreement to contain already detailed statements. On the other hand, there are fears, that with regard to the size of the government's workload, a strict sticking to the content will prevail and room for amendments or new issues barely exists. For the latter, this is however highly valid. So, for the "future of work", one had indeed expected a bit more. The question, how the works constitution law is to be made fit for future, is not raised at all. Virtually, desperation pops up when a clear commitment for a long overdue tax reform with a simplified tax law is being looked for. Here again, no mention at all. Even a digital revolution cannot be expected of this new government.

A coalition agreement is always a consent-driven agreement, in which all partners need to leave their fingerprints. Significantly permature are calls for a radical reform of the German electorial system. Surely, our proportional electoral system enhances significantly the probability of coalition governments. This is a painful historic learning process we have been undergoing during the Nazi regime and also during the era as a split nation. A pure majority electoral system with the principle "the winner takes it all" creates clear results, but also the danger of power concentration with the election's winner, who is offered an avenue free of obstacles for four years. Our British friends, however, see their majority electoral system meanwhile with growing unease. At every change of power between the conservative and the labour party, a complete political turnaround is looming, which can result in a political standstill over a longer period. Then, perhaps a coalition government is the better choice with the policy of small steps which advances us slowly but steadily.

Despite of all imponderables, we wish you an enjoyable reading of our magazine's latest issue.

Ulrich Goldschmidt