Magdeburg / Halle (dpa) – The coalition dispute in Saxony-Anhalt over the increase in the amount of radio license has gotten even more difficult with the end of interior minister and CDU party leader Holger Stahlknecht.
Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff (CDU) must now not only avert a break with the coalition partners SPD and the Greens, but also needs a replacement for the cabinet and the leadership of the state party along the way. Who could keep the conflicting forces in their CDU together and support themselves? Especially since the dispute over a possible rejection of the radio license together with the AfD has meanwhile drawn attention outside of Saxony-Anhalt: shortly before the start of the Bundestag election year, the federal party is coming under increasing pressure.
This Saturday, the party council of the state of SPD will meet. It is uncertain whether the Social Democrats will move in the direction of the CDU after Haseloff has clearly pledged to continue the alliance with the resignation of Stahlknecht. The Greens, as the third member of the league, had already submitted a compromise proposal in the broadcasting dispute before the escalation: to approve the corresponding state treaty of all states with more extensive regulations, but not to decide until mid-2021 whether the planned contribution increases from 86 cents to 18 cents, 36 euros must remain.
A veto would break the state treaty. Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer advises his CDU friends in Magdeburg to agree. “It would not send a good signal if the state treaty fails,” he told the editorial network Germany. “That is also a civil responsibility that every member of parliament in Saxony-Anhalt has.”
However, the aim of stable premiums has been agreed in the Magdeburg coalition agreement. The SPD and the Greens argue that inflation compensation should be included. The CDU rejects the increase. The AfD is also against it, both would have a majority together. Should the CDU strengthen its position with the help of the AfD, the SPD and the Greens want to leave the coalition. Because all three partners had actually ruled out a collaboration with the AfD.
The coalition partners fought in vain for a solution for days. A preliminary decision should have been made with the state media commission’s resolution recommendation, but the vote was delayed by a week until next Wednesday. It should take place in plenary mid-month.
Haseloff had always ruled out a minority government in the event of the collapse of the coalition – but not exactly Stahlknecht in an interview published Friday. Despite his refusal to cooperate with the AfD, the SPD and Greens accused him of preparing the way to overthrow the head of government and take his place. Haseloff fired Stahlknecht as minister. In the evening, he announced his withdrawal from the CDU state seat for Tuesday.
The federal chairman of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, held the SPD and the Greens responsible. “I hope that all responsible forces in Saxony-Anhalt will work with the Prime Minister to ensure political stability,” she told the German news agency. Haseloff made suggestions for this. “The decision now rests particularly with the SPD and the Greens, who need to be aware of their political responsibility.”
The CDU presidential candidate and North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet and CDU Secretary-General Paul Ziemiak again ruled out a partnership with the AfD. Ziemiak accused the SPD and the Greens of trying to crack the Kenyan coalition. You are not concerned about the radio costs, he wrote in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. “They are only concerned with questioning the credibility of the Union in dealing with the AfD.”
SPD group leader Rolf Mützenich told Düsseldorf’s “Rheinische Post”: “We must remind the Union as a whole that working with the democracy-defying AfD will not only create existential problems for the specific coalition in Saxony-Anhalt.”
The FDP, which is not represented in the Magdeburg state parliament, considers both parties responsible. “The Union shows that its relationship with the AfD is anything but clear,” criticized FDP Secretary General Volker Wissing. At the same time, the coalition partners SPD and Greens behaved “deliberately destructive”.
What happens now?
After Stahlknecht’s resignation, the FDP and the left have asked the prime minister to ask for a vote of confidence. That usually has quite a disciplinary effect, said the deputy head of the Berlin Institute for Parliamentary Research, Benjamin Höhne, of the dpa. If the CDU faction does not fully support its head of government, it is clear that the coalition is on the verge of ending and that Saxony-Anhalt could plunge into “chaos”.
Another scenario is that the deportation of Stahlknecht would lead to consensus within the coalition: the coalition partners SPD and the Greens could go towards Haseloff and agree to postpone the decision on a higher temp compensation, Höhne outlined. “The Greens and the SPD are well aware of the difficult situation the CDU is in and that there is a strong right wing that is playing to get closer to the AfD.”
The CDU faction and the State Chancellery recently proposed to repeal and renegotiate the state treaty and premium payments ahead of the final vote in mid-December. However, this would amount to a blockade, as the treaty is void if all state parliaments do not approve it by the end of the year. In that case, public broadcasters will likely appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court.