The SPD was good for 25.7 percent of the vote, ahead of CDU/CSU. The Conservatives ultimately gained 24.1 percent. The Greens finished in third place and the Liberal FDP came in at number 4 with a slight win.
Months before the elections, the SPD and the CDU indicated that they did not want to form a government together again. After eight years of being coalition partners, they say they no longer feel like it.
Hard into the negotiations
Unlike in the Netherlands, it is not necessarily up to the SPD as the largest party to start the formation process and supply the Chancellor. There is also the possibility that the FDP and the Greens will first sit down to agree as much as possible and then ask one of the two largest parties to join.
“We now especially need a fast and stable coalition,” says Günter Gülker, director of the German-Dutch Chamber of Commerce. He expects a traffic light coalition of SPD, the ‘yellow’ FDP and the Greens. “The SPD or CDU/CSU needs both the Greens and the Liberals to rule. Those parties know that, so they’re going to go into negotiations hard.”
Gülker calls that ‘actually a good thing’: “Both parties want to modernize Germany.” The liberal FDP mainly wants to reduce bureaucracy, speed up procedures and thus make communication with the government easier.
The Greens mainly want to accelerate the energy transition. “That is a core theme. All parties actually applaud that, a lot of investments will go into it.”
Uncertainty about cooperation
If the SPD is given a leading role in the coalition formation, it will be a few months of nail biting for FIER Automotive. The company has been working with German companies for years in the field of electric mobility, especially for charging technology. An important partner is the German National Platform for Future Mobility (NPM).
“We understood from them that it would be very uncertain whether the NPM will be followed up if the SPD wins the elections,” says partner Edwin Bestebreurtje. “Not because they don’t feel much for it, but there is a chance that the SPD wants to start another initiative that would have to start again.”
Germany is the Netherlands’ largest trading partner in the automotive field. As far as electric mobility is concerned, it was pushing and pulling for years, says Bestebreurtje. “It was only after the diesel scandal in 2017 that the major makers also started to switch. We are now starting to reap the benefits; it would be bitter if that were to disappear again.”
Hoping for SPD and the Greens
In addition, the current German government has created considerable incentive packages for electric driving, explains Bestebreurtje. “Subsidies of 9,000 euros per electric vehicle. If those packages are discussed and the numbers of cars level off, our business will eventually be affected.”
He hopes for a collaboration between the SPD and the Greens. “That would increase the chances of proactive progress of the NPM with the promotion of sustainable mobility.”
CDU leader Armin Laschet will not immediately be given the mandate, Chamber of Commerce director Gülker thinks. “The question is how stable he is now that he has lost almost 9 percentage points in the election.” But whether it will be the SPD that takes the lead or the CDU: very large differences with the current trade policy, Gülker does not expect.
Away from the paper
“It is still difficult to estimate how the new government will shape the energy transition,” he says. “It would not make sense if she took protectionist measures; the conversion of gas pipelines into hydrogen pipelines, for example, takes place across borders. In that respect, European thinking has to be considered.”
And if it is up to Gülker, it is more than in other years that reforms are taking place. “The new government must invest in the digitization of the government. That is good for the business climate in Germany and must make entrepreneurship easier. You have to get away from the analogue, away from paper. Then the brakes can be released.”
The Greens and the FDP agree that investment is needed, says Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany. “The big difference is in the way it is done: with or without higher taxes.”
He expects the formation to focus primarily on Germany’s domestic economy. “Germany will still be involved in the European Union when it comes to foreign policy and the energy transition. But as far as the eurozone, monetary policy, is concerned, it will not take the lead.”
That’s because the Greens and the Liberals each have a very different picture of the EU, Brzeski said. “The Greens want a bigger Union. The Liberals prefer to go back in time, including the ability to bankrupt countries.”