A black-green alliance is easy for the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia – in contrast to the Greens. At the party conference in Bonn on Saturday, the Christian Democrats voted in favor of the 146-page coalition agreement with just one word in the debate and four votes against. They followed CDU state leader and Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst, who had previously emphasized: “The foundation for successful work for North Rhine-Westphalia in the next five years has been laid.” The way there was long, now both parties are connected by a clear compass: “We want to make North Rhine-Westphalia the first climate-neutral industrial region in Europe.” A leitmotif that was particularly shaped by the Greens. After barely an hour, everything was settled at the CDU at noon.
At that time, the debate at the Green Party Congress in Bielefeld had only just begun. The debate between the delegates lasted several hours. The outgoing party leader and future Vice Prime Minister Mona Neubaur did emphasize the advantages and advertised that the contract would “improve the future in NRW”, but a small part of the party felt uneasy. The critics, especially from the Green Youth, do not see sufficient impetus for change.
The supporters had also advertised that nothing would improve significantly without the Greens and that earlier coalition agreements with the SPD had been worse in some cases. Early on Saturday evening, a clear majority of the Greens delegates voted for the first alliance with the CDU in the most populous federal state.
Previously, the negotiators from the CDU and the Greens had come closer quickly and smoothly. Wüst and Neubaur were able to build trust in one another in a very short time, even though their parties had been political opponents in North Rhine-Westphalia for more than three decades. Both are now on first-name terms and emphasized their unity again and again last Thursday when they presented the coalition agreement. Their intention was clear: black-green should become a model for success in the most populous federal state.
A day earlier, Prime Minister Daniel Günther sent similar signals in Schleswig-Holstein. The CDU would also have a parliamentary majority here with the FDP – but Günther decided against the black-yellow coalition, although this was preferred by the majority of party officials. With the force of his 43 percent result behind him, he pushed the party members in the direction of black and green. From his point of view, it is a much more assertive and future-oriented alliance.
Black-green, a look at the election result is enough, is a new form of grand coalition for Schleswig-Holstein. The government constellation that the rest of the republic has always tended towards in times of crisis – and will probably tend to do so in the future.
An alliance is now being tested in western and northern Germany that can also develop nationwide appeal and is already seen as an important alternative model for the traffic light constellation in the federal government. In Hesse and Baden-Württemberg, the two parties have been working together successfully for some time. Black-green is currently trending and will in future attract almost a third of the votes in the Bundesrat.
In NRW, the CDU allowed a lot of green in the coalition agreement. Climate protection and many other ecological issues dominate the new agenda, quite differently than before under black and yellow. The Greens will set up a “super ministry” with the departments of economy, industry, climate protection and energy. You will get four ministries, one more than the FDP has done so far, and the CDU wants to appoint eight ministers.
The Christian Democrats remained fairly steadfast when it came to internal security, because the success of NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) is considered a key factor in the victory in the state elections in May. Prime Minister Wüst is concerned with “reconciling supposed opposites”. The CDU even agreed to take over the extremely sensitive school department, which had once caused great problems for the Greens and most recently the FDP. With this concession, Wüst wanted to make it easier for the Greens to agree.
In Schleswig-Holstein, the CDU prevailed in the black-green coalition negotiations. To be more precise, Prime Minister Günther has prevailed. This began with the selection of the coalition partner. His march through continues in the 244-page coalition agreement that the CDU and Greens presented last week and which should be approved by the respective party conferences next Monday.
Wherever the otherwise vaguely worded convolute becomes concrete, where black and green declarations of intent become clear announcements, it bears the handwriting of the old and new prime minister. This begins with the agreement to be able to exploit the oil deposits under the Wadden Sea more extensively than planned in view of the current energy crisis, continues with the Greens’ approval of the most important transport projects from the Union’s point of view, the Autobahn 20 and the crossing of the Fehmarnbelt – and ends not in the case of the significant limitation of citizens’ petitions and citizens’ decisions, with which the conversion of Schleswig-Holstein into a climate-neutral industrial state, which both parties are striving for, is to be promoted.
Günther was also able to score points when it came to the layout of the ministries, a central point in the distribution of political power in the course of coalition negotiations. Under pressure from the head of government, the Greens had to give up responsibility for agricultural policy, a crucial point for the cohesion of the Union in the north and thus for Günther’s support in his own party. In return, the Greens get the Ministry of Social Affairs they want. A move that could strengthen the party’s struggle for hegemony in the left-wing political camp and at the same time weaken the SPD. This too is a development that the Union should strategically welcome.
After the vote at the party conferences, the two prime ministers are standing for election in their state parliaments: Wüst next Tuesday and Günther a day later. If the two are re-elected heads of government, which seems certain in view of the large black-green majorities in Düsseldorf and Kiel, then they will be awarded another unofficial title: Wüst and Günther are hopefuls for the CDU leadership reserve in the federal government.