VZCZCXYZ0006OO RUEHWEBDE RUEHFT #2670/01 2870514ZNY CCCCC ZZH (CCY DECL ADX0C4000E/MSI5591 510)O 140514Z OCT 09 ZDSFM AMCONSUL FRANKFURTTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2031INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATERHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L FRANKFURT 002670 C O R R E C T E D COPY (ADDED DECL DATE) DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CE SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 20191013 TAGS: PGOV GMSUBJECT: GREENS IN SAARLAND TURN RIGHT, SETTING POLITICAL PRECEDENT Ref: Berlin 938 Classified by: Consul General Ned Alford for reason 1.4 (b,d) ¶
1. (C) Summary: The Green Party in Saarland set a new political precedent October 11 when it decided overwhelmingly to form a coalition with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a so-called "Jamaica" coalition based upon the parties' colors (Black, Yellow and Green). Already, the media and politicians from all parties are speculating as to whether this indicates a new course for the historically left-leaning Greens. In a meeting with the Ambassador October 13, Greens Party co-Chair Cem Oezdemir expressed satisfaction with the Saarland Greens' decision, noting that the key is what the party will be able to achieve. Almost forecasting this outcome, Greens party co-caucus leader Renate Kuenast told the Ambassador October 2 that she did not want the Greens to be part of a leftist "bloc," but rather saw the party working toward a coalition with the CDU on the national level in the future. The Saarland Greens' vote was not only one in favor of forming a coalition with the CDU and FDP, but an expression of opposition to cooperating with the Saarland Left Party and its leader, Oskar Lafontaine. End summary.
GREENS AS KINGMAKER
2. (U) The Saarland state elections August 30 eliminated the CDU's absolute majority and put the Green Party in the position of "Kingmaker." The Greens had to choose whether to join with the right of center CDU and FDP in a Jamaica coalition or turn to the left, and join with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Left Party (referred to as red-red-green for the parties' colors). The Greens decided to let their members choose its direction at their state wide convention on October 11, where the party decided with 78% in favor of a Jamaica coalition.
3. (SBU) During the past month, rumors ran rampant as to whether a Jamaica or Red-Red-Green coalition would form. Last week, Saarland SPD Head, Heiko Maas, publicly suggested that a Red-Red-Green government would happen since the parties had ironed out most of their differences. All predictions blew up at the end of the week however when the Left Party national co-chair, Oskar Lafontaine, suddenly announced that he would give up his Bundestag seat in Berlin to stay in Saarland after the government formed. This decision, which was heavily covered in the press, contradicted his prior position that he would serve only as an interim Caucus chief before returning to Berlin.
"LAFONTAINE AND THE LEFT PARTY ERRATIC AND NOT TRUSTWORTHY"
4. (SBU) As soon as the State Convention began, Consulate representatives speaking to attendees learned that a Jamaica coalition was likely. The Saarland Greens Party board had voted earlier in the day for a Jamaica coalition. The Green Party Chairman, Hubert Ulrich, subsequently delivered an impassioned and emotional speech, arguing that the Left Party was unstable, erratic, and untrustworthy. Ulrich considered Lafontaine's recent announcement to stay in Saarland to be a breach of promise and said that the most important factor for a coalition was stability, which could not be achieved with Lafontaine, but could with the CDU with whom negotiations and been fruitful and substantive. Ulrich later referred to Oskar Lafontaine as the "father of Jamaica."
5. (U) Although Ulrich's message seemed to persuade many delegates, others spoke out against joining with the CDU and for a coalition with the SPD and Left party. Some speakers argued that the Greens' platform fits better with the ideology of the SPD and that for the Greens to support the incumbent Minister-President Peter-Mueller, who has been in office for ten years, goes against their promise to bring change to government.
GREENS GET GOOD DEAL IN GOVERNMENT TO COME
6. (SBU) The Jamaica coalition will be the first such coalition in Germany. Peter Mueller the CDU Minister President will remain government chief. The Greens will head two ministries, the Ministry for the Environment and Energy and Ministry for Education. The coalition agreed to numerous points most significant of which are the elimination of tuition fees for universities in Saarland, the eventual elimination of coal production in Saarland, and the agreement to stick to the current timetable of decommissioning nuclear power plants. This last item may be significant if the federal CDU and FDP government, as they are discussing, decides to alter the nuclear decommissioning plan (see reftel). The Saarland Bundesrat representatives, which will include Minister-President Mueller, may be compelled to vote against this national initiative due to the terms of their coalition agreement.
GREENS NATIONAL LEADERS SEE NEW COURSE FOR GREENS
7. (C) In an October 2 meeting, Greens co-Caucus leader Renate Kuenast almost previewed the Saarland decision, telling the Ambassador that the Greens should not limit itself to being part of a "leftist bloc." Rather, Kuenast said that she sees the Greens working toward a coalition with the CDU on the national level, a coalition which currently only exists in Hamburg. Greens national co-Chair Cem Oezdemir likewise told the Ambassador October 13 that the Greens should not limit their alliances but should rather see how they can achieve their goals, including with the CDU. He noted, however, that the party is somewhat divided on this issue, with the party's more left-leaning wing upset with the Saarland decision. Oezdemir explained that the Greens and the SPD, which have traditionally sought to form coalitions together, draw some of their support from different constituencies, with the Greens drawing from educated, environmentalists, and the SPD the working class.
8. (C) Comment: The decision of the Saarland Greens reflects the new five party political landscape in Germany. While the Greens have traditionally shared more ideology with the SPD party, their current coalition with the CDU and FDP may force all three parties to question their identity as either 'left' or 'right' wing. Oscar Lafontaine managed to make the final event dramatic with his announcement last week. Several Green party members hypothesized that Lafontaine deliberately wanted to reduce the likelihood of a Red-Red-Green government and further damage the SPD party which is already suffering after resounding losses in the Sept 27 federal election. A damaged SPD could help the Left party maintain its now proven strength. A successful CDU-Green coalition may also show that the Greens no longer need their former SPD partners to function successfully in government. End Comment
9. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.