Lindner countered the claim that his party was harming the coalition and the state in the dispute over the Building Energy Act (GEG). “If the FDP prevents left-wing politics and economically unreasonable solutions, then that strengthens our country,” Lindner told the media company Table.Media.
The government’s heating law had recently caused considerable conflicts between the governing parties. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said to the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”: “I do not hide the fact that these discussions could also be conducted quietly for my taste.”
The FDP has been blocking the project for weeks. The traffic light parties in the coalition committee had agreed at the end of March to pass the law before the summer recess in the Bundestag, which begins on July 7th. The FDP had questioned the appointment and is pushing for a complete revision. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) then accused the Liberals of “breach of word”. Habeck now wants to meet representatives of the three traffic light groups on Tuesday to discuss the law.
It is about finding ways to advance the law in the parliamentary process, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Economics on Friday in Berlin. In an interview with the Funke media group, Habeck suggested starting with the new buildings in January 2024. With existing buildings, there is a desire for more time.
Political scientist: “There is no obvious alternative to the traffic light”
Habeck emphasized that given the concerns about the lack of craftsmen and delivery bottlenecks, a little more time would also help. The minister also underlined that the draft law is already open to technology. However, he also sees further scope here with a view to the debate about wood pellets. Recently, it was still unclear what rules there should be for heating with wood in the future.
According to the plans of the federal government, from 2024 every newly installed heating system should be operated with at least 65 percent renewable energy. In practice, this would sooner or later result in replacing oil and gas heating systems. However, there are numerous exceptions.
Bonn political scientist Volker Kronenberg attributes the intensification of the debate to the actions of the Economics Minister. “Habeck has negligently allowed the discussion about this law to become a symbol of false green rigorism in traffic lights,” Kronenberg told the Handelsblatt. “The fact that the FDP and parts of the SPD are against it in their current form is not surprising given the general shaking of heads in society about this project.”
Could the dispute possibly be the beginning of the end of the traffic light coalition? FDP leader Lindner does not see the government alliance in danger because of the conflict. “It’s unrealistic overdramatization,” he said.
>> Read also: What the FDP von Habeck wants to know about the new law
Even the Passau political scientist Heinrich Oberreuter does not believe that the continued existence of the coalition is now in jeopardy. “Because there is no alternative to traffic lights,” he explained. Apart from a new grand coalition, nothing functional is in sight. “And this idea seems absurd and only conceivable as a kind of emergency constellation if nothing works anymore.”
The dispute hits the traffic light parties at a difficult time, when they no longer have a majority in the polls. In the Bremen election, the FDP had just managed to get past the five percent hurdle. But it has long been considered how to gain strength and profile. One strategy could be to position yourself as a corrective in what is actually an unpopular coalition, while at the same time emphasizing your own successes.
The Greens, on the other hand, are plagued by moderate election results in Berlin and Bremen, accusations of nepotism in the Ministry of Economics and now open criticism from Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) of the heating plans in the federal government. And the SPD, as chancellor party, cannot stand out in polls, also because Chancellor Scholz is publicly classified as predominantly weak in decision-making.
Scholz is also barely noticeable in the heating debate. And if so, then at most he reports what others have already said – for example that the law should be introduced to the Bundestag before the summer break. “Everyone involved has this ambition. And have assured that the open questions will be discussed with each other very quickly,” Scholz told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”. The draft law is now being discussed and improved in Parliament. All three factions of the coalition worked on it.
Heating Act: Experts outline ways out of the dispute
Habeck stressed that it was important for the law to go through the Bundestag before the summer break. “We now need a willingness to compromise on all sides in order not to drive society further apart in this huge task, but to rally it behind affordable, pragmatic climate protection that is appropriate to the drastic nature of the climate crisis.”
The FDP economic politician Reinhard Houben already praised Habeck’s willingness to change. “A distinction between existing buildings and new buildings makes a lot of sense,” Houben wrote on Twitter. “That makes me optimistic that in the end we will pass a good law.”
The politics professor Oberreuter urged Scholz to become more involved in the topic. “The chancellor must mediate and build bridges,” he said. “Face-saving could essentially be a solution with slightly gentler deadlines, clearer traceability, clearer and more realistic social relief and greater openness to technology,” explained the expert.
Political scientist Kronenberg also believes that an agreement is possible. “A compromise on the matter can and will – traditionally proven in parliamentary finger-hugging of the parliamentary groups – lie in changed transition periods,” he said. “The core of the law remains, Habeck enforces it, the deadlines are modified – and the liberals have clearly taken on the role of the bourgeois corrective for the electorate.”
However, this compromise variant could not necessarily make further joint government easier, as Kronenberg explains. “How this “division of labor” is to become a common whole, a convincing narrative of departure beyond the crisis management of the turn of the era, remains to be seen.”
More: Should you buy a gas heater now?