CDU and Greens form Coalition Government in Hamburg

ollowing our mock election and government formation simulation, I thought it might be of interest to you to note that the CDU and the Green Party of have formed an historic alliance in the city-state government of Hamburg (Hamburg is one of the sixteen German states, or Lander). Der Spiegel (the German equivalent of Time magazine) has more on the new coalition government.

Hamburg mayor Ole von Beust, a Christian Democrat, has found \

The conservative Christian Democrats and the environmental Green Party have long been skeptical of one another. But now, the two have joined forces to form a government in the German city-state of Hamburg.

Members of the German Green Party and the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have arrived at an agreement “in principle” to govern together in Hamburg, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned from Green Party sources. It would be the first CDU-Green coalition at the state level in German politics.

We just have to put it in writing,” said the source, who asked not to be named. “It’s just a matter of the preamble (to the coalition agreement), and such things.”

The coalition agreement will reportedly be unveiled late Thursday — which implies that some points of disagreement, like a Hamburg-area schools policy and the fate of two coal-fired power plants, have been settled.

“We have nothing else to discuss in a full meeting,” said a spokeswoman for the Greens, Antje Möller, after the last round of talks on Wednesday. The two sides had reached an understanding, she said, on “the points which still remained.”

(Picture Caption:Hamburg mayor Ole von Beust, a Christian Democrat has found “common ground” with Green leader Christa Goetsch.)

Mock German Election Simulation–Government Formation Results

In the second part of our mock German election simulation–the government formation negotiations–we were able to get a new government voted into power by the recently elected Bundestag.  (I refer you to this post for more information about the electoral results.)

To remind you, following the election, we had the composition of the Bundestag was:

FDP–6 mandate (formateur party)

CDU/CSU–4 mandates

SPD–3 mandates

Greens–3 mandates

In order to have a secure governing coalition, a governing coalition of at least 9 mandates would be needed in this sixteen-member parliament.

The FDP were unable to convince any of the other parties to form a governing coalition with them, and the government that was voted into office, by a majority vote of 10-6 was a three-party coalition of the Greens, CDU/CSU, and the SPD.

In the end, it was the personal ambition of the CDU/CSU leader–Patrick S.–that ruled the day.  He wanted to become Chancellor and this steely determination served him well as he, with his fellow party members and advisory committee, was able to effectively forge a rather wieldy three-party governing coalition.

Why did Patrick S. want to become Chancellor so desperately?  There have been reports in some of the leading journals that it has been his dream since childhood.  But in a sit-down interview with Deutsche Welle following his ascension to the Chancellorship, Chancellor S. claimed that it was because this election was crucial to the future of the German state.  According to the Chancellor, he and his party believe that a moral crisis of epic proportions has descended upon Germany and only his party had the necessary moral acuity to set Germany back on the correct path.

The Chancellor and the six-member Cabinet is composed of the following:

Chancellor–Patrick S. (CDU/CSU)

Minister of Education–Becky W. (Greens)

Minister of the Interior–Erick K. (CDU/CSU)

Minister of the Environment–Zhivko I. (Greens)

Minister of Foreign Affairs–Kyle B. (CDU/CSU)

Minister of Health–Rip F. (SPD)

Minister of Labor–Andrew S. (SPD)

One of the advisers to the SPD commented that the SPD actually had refused to sign a coalition agreement offered to them by the FDP, which in retrospect, was better for the SPD than the one they signed ultimately.  There seemed to be a consensus within the SPD that the arrogance of the FDP had created friction between the two potential coalition partners.

I look forward to reading your impressions of the simulation exercise on your blogs.

FDP Wins Plularity of Bundestag Seats in Mock German Election–Spring 2008

[UPDATE: I made a mistake when I was initially tabulating results, necessitating a slight change in the composition of the Bundestag. As it now stands, the problem occurred in West Land, where is seems some poll workers had imbibed a little bit too much of that noted Bavarian beverage, bier. A recount (which is easy given that paper ballots were used) results in the following change: one more mandate for the FDP in West Land–I’ve slotted in the 4th candidate from the FDP party list from that Land–and one fewer mandate for the SPD in the same Land. Therefore, the final results are FDP-6; CDU-4; Greens-3; SPD-3. The party leader of FDP will still be given the role of party formateur.]

[UPDATE 2: The aforementioned poll workers have been fired and are now in AA.]

[UPDATE 3: Please see below how the adviser roles have been distributed.]

Here are the results from the mock election to the lower house of the German Reichstag held this afternoon. Those of you who were not elected to represent your district or Land in the Bundestag will nonetheless also be actively involved (as advisers to your fellow party members) in the second part of the simulation–negotiations to form a government. I will send more instructions regarding that portion of the simulation later this weekend. As you can see below, the FDP has won a plurality in the Bundestag and will be given first crack at putting together a workable coalition, trying to reach a formal agreement with one of the other parties. Signing coalition agreements with either the CDU/CSU or the SPD are most likely (given that there is a total of 16 seats in our parliament) but don’t count out a coalition with the Greens either.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll have more information regarding the specifics of the coalition negotiations and also post a sample coalition agreement form on Blackboard later, but in the meantime think about the most important elements of the negotiation process:

  1. Which party/parties will form the government? Remember you need a majority in parliament to vote the new government into power.
  2. Who will become the Chancellor (i.e., the Prime Minister)?
  3. What will be the general orientation of the government’s policy-making agenda? Given the campaign pledges you made (either to your district and/or your Land) can you plausibly vote for a government that is dedicated to carrying out this policy agenda?
  4. What about some of the policy specifics? Changes to the citizenship law? Higher taxes on carbon emitting industries? Higher (lower) income/consumption taxes? Anything else of importance to you or your district/Land?
  5. Who will get which Ministerial Portfolios? Who will become Foreign Minister? Minister of the Environment? Minister of Health? Minister of Finance? Minister of Justice? Minister of Labor?
  6. Which individuals will be given these portfolios?

I will set up a new folder in the Discussion Board section of Blackboard so that you can all begin the “feeling out” process prior to the official negotiations on Tuesday afternoon.

Click here to see the current members of the German Federal Cabinet (which is the Chief Executive), which is made up of the Chancellor (currently Angela Merkel) and 15 Cabinet ministers.

NOTE: You will notice that some of you who ran for election in districts have nonetheless been elected to parliament on the basis of party lists. I had to do this, given the relatively small number of students in the class. In general, the party lists are much larger than the ones you saw on your ballots as there were simply not enough students and I wanted to have four SMDs. Therefore, where it was warranted, I moved non-SMD-winners over to party lists (i.e., when the proportion of votes generated a number of seats for that party in excess of the number of individuals on the party list. Of course, this would never happen in a real German election as the party lists always have many more candidates than the party will end up earning on the basis of PR. I’ll go over this on Tuesday.

Here are the advisers and the party member whom you will be advising over the course of the government formation negotiations on Tuesday.

Lecture on German Political Parties April 17th

Talk about serendipity!  We will finish our mock German election and government formation simulation on Tuesday, April 15th and two days later there will be a guest lecture on campus by Dieter Dettke, Visiting Scholar at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, Security Studies Program.  on “Is Germany Moving to the Left?  The Changing German Party System.

You can find below a copy of the flyer announcing the lecture, which will begin at 5:30 at the Gottwald Science Center Auditorium.  I’ll see you there.

The Richmond Eric M. Warburg Chapter

of the American Council on Germany

cordially invites you to a

Discussion and Reception


Dr. Dieter Dettke

Visiting Scholar at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and

Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, Security Studies Program


“Is Germany Moving to the Left?

The Changing German Party System"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

5:30 – 6:45 pm


The University of Richmond, Gottwald Science Center Auditorium

Directions: If coming from Three Chopt Road, turn onto Boatwright Drive and continue straight ahead at the welcoming wall at the bottom of the winding hill (do not turn left for the main campus gate). After passing the Robins Center on your left and a large parking lot on your right, proceed for another 300 yards on College Road to the Westhampton entrance on your left. (If coming from River Road, turn onto College Road and turn right into the Westhampton entrance.) Continue on Keller Road to the Modlin Center and pass through the archway. Opposite the stop sign are parking spaces in front of the Westhampton Deanery and even more spaces between it and the cafeteria and science center. The science center auditorium is in the Gottwald Science Center across from the cafeteria. (In case the above parking spaces are full,  there is a parking lot behind the Modlin Center which you can access by turning right at the stop sign or left if exiting the parking lot across from the stop sign.)

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Arthur B. Gunlicks,

Dr. Dieter Dettke is currently a visiting scholar at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, Security Studies Program. He is working on a book on German foreign policy and transatlantic relations – with the working title “In Search of Normalcy: German Foreign and Security Policy Between Realpolitik and the Civilian Power Paradigm.” He has also been a fellow at both the Woodrow Wilson Center and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

From 1985 to 2006 he served as US Representative and Executive Director of the Washington Office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation – which is affiliated with Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). Prior to his work with the Ebert Foundation, Dr. Dettke was Political Counsellor of the SPD Parliamentary Group of the German Bundestag (1974 – 1984) and Staff Director of the Working Group on US-German relations. In this capacity, he coordinated all foreign, security and defence policy related issues on the agenda of the German Bundestag and the Committees for Foreign Affairs, Defence, German-German relations, Development Policy and European Affairs.

He has lectured frequently in Europe and the United States on transatlantic relations, German-American security issues and European-American economic relations. He has also presented papers, acted as a discussant and/or chair at U.S. and international conferences of the American Political Science Association, the International Studies Association, the German Studies Association and the American Association of Slavic Studies. In addition, Dr. Dettke testified in Congress on the implications of German unification for the United States and US-European relations.

Dr. Dettke has appeared on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, C-SPAN, Voice of America as well as other American, German, Swiss, and British television and radio programs to discuss issues and developments related to domestic and foreign policy developments in Europe and the United States. Dr. Dettke studied political science and law at the universities of Bonn and Berlin (Germany) and Strasbourg (France). He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle (1967/68).

Mock German Election and Government Formation Simulation

Here is a great link to information about the German electoral and political party system. You can find all sorts of information and links (to youtube videos even!) related to German political parties and the electoral system. Here are a couple of images from the link above:

The first is a one-dimensional left-right placement of political parties. Remember that given our relatively small class size, you will be a representative of only one of four parties–CDU/CSU, FDP, SPD, Green Party. [Update: I notice that they have the CDU and CSU listed as separate parties, which they technically are.  As I noted in the assignment instructions, the CSU is essentially the CDU, but in Bavaria.  They always forms coalitions in the Bundestag when deciding on government formation.]

The second image is the unique two-vote electoral ballot; remember that Germans get to vote twice–once for a candidate to fill one of the 299 single-member districts, and once for a party list in a multi-member district. You’ll notice the left side of the ballot has the individual candidate’s name prominently displayed, whereas the party-list side (the right-side of the ballot) has the party name prominently displayed.

Here’s a nice breakdown of the characteristics of demographic support for each of the parties during the 2005 Bundestag elections, the result of which was a “grand coalition” between Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU (Merkel was voted in by parliament as the Chancellor) and Gerhard Schroeder’s SPD.