Magdeburg (dpa) – After five years of hardship and noise, Germany’s first Kenyan coalition in Saxony-Anhalt is coming to an end. The coalition grew out of the rubble of the political earthquake that caused the AfD when it entered Magdeburg’s state parliament in 2016.
From the outset, the right-wing populists received nearly one in four votes. The Kenyan coalition opposed this as a “bulwark against the right” and a “coalition of the decent”.
Much more than the rejection of the AfD does not bind the three coalition partners at the time, and even after five years of coalition, the alliance has not turned into a love affair. A new edition of Kenya after the state elections on June 6 is not unlikely. Because the work with the SPD and the Greens has proven itself for CDU Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff despite all the uncertainties: the coalition enacted numerous laws and held its own for the entire term despite all disputes.
Haseloff himself makes no secret that governmental power is also an end in itself for him. In the union’s K question, he spoke out for Markus Söder (CSU) instead of his party leader Armin Laschet – not for substantive reasons, but because of the polls; Preservation of power as a guide. Certainly in times of crisis, the stability of a government is ‘a value in itself’, says the 67-year-old. The CDU must therefore remain compatible with other parties.
The party is holding back in the election campaign: there are hardly any major events, union greats such as Friedrich Merz or Markus Söder come as guests of the State Chancellery – not the State Chancellery. It is compatible, does not carry out controversial projects, mainly advertises the face of the Prime Minister. The mild grandfather smile of the country’s father is the Wittenberg variant of the Merkel diamond. Like Adenauer’s “No Experiments” and Kretschmann’s “You know me,” Haseloff’s election campaign evokes the fundamental conservative need for stability and familiarity.
However, the Kenyan coalition was an experiment, albeit an inevitable one, as no other majorities were possible without the AfD or the left. And the experiment threatened to fail several times – for example, because of the dispute over the increase in the radio license fee. Haseloff recently emphasized the good cooperation in the cabinet, but the mood among the coalition groups is still tense. The state associations of CDU, SPD and Greens have so far not come as close to the center as the federal parties. Conservatives, social and union politicians and traditional environmentalists sit side by side in the coalition.
The unequal alliance in the state parliament is framed on the one hand by the strong left that holds as many seats as the SPD and the Greens put together, and since 2016 by the second largest and arguably right-wing AfD group in Germany on the other. The middle between these poles runs somewhere in the CDU faction between the MPs who support Haseloff’s coalition of the middle and those who, unlike Haseloff, actually see the neighbors with the right seat as the lesser evil than the left.
In the new state parliament, the return of the FDP could change the situation again: opinion polls trust the liberals to get into parliament. In the same polls, the Kenyan coalition still achieved a majority of five to ten percentage points. Haseloff can look forward to a return of the FDP anyway. It would qualify as an alternative coalition partner that would strengthen its position against the SPD and the Greens, or an additional one if, after the Haseloff I government, the Haseloff II government also loses its majority. If, in addition to the FDP, the free voters, who were not individually collected in surveys, manage to enter state parliament, Haseloff could be forced to form a coalition of four.
Otherwise there are hardly any reasons for the head of government to change the color of the cupboard table. The Greens, who are still very unpopular in parts of his group, have proven to be reliable coalition partners. Haseloff also had no problems with the Social Democrats: Health Minister Petra Grimm-Benne was the main crisis manager in the pandemic and the prime minister could also rely on Minister of Economic Affairs Armin Willingmann before and during the crisis.
However, the current state parliament already suspected that the formation of a government might not be easy for all parties and last year dropped a deadline for the election of the prime minister from the state constitution without replacement. Shortly before the long-prepared reform, the formation of a government in neighboring Thuringia took months because there was no government majority after the state elections. In Thuringia, the AfD and the left together got more than half of the vote, so a majority was only possible with one of the two parties.
However, the CDU excludes cooperation with both and was therefore not available to any government. Even if the AfD reiterates its strong 2016 result, 13 to 18 percentage points are still missing for such a stalemate in Saxony-Anhalt, at least in studies for the AfD or the left. That seems very unlikely a good two weeks before the election – especially as some of the corona frustration that the opposition parties wanted to take advantage of is likely to subside in the coming weeks. Instead, there is much more evidence that Haseloff can and will continue to rule with the Kenyan coalition.