Hamburg vote could forge ‘black-green’ alliance

The convoluted results of Sunday's state elections in Hamburg could alter Germany's political landscape with the country's first ever conservative-Greens coalition.

Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrat party (CDU) may be willing to create a “black-green” coalition with the left-leaning Green party in Hamburg. Sunday’s election yielded a victory for the CDU, but the party lost its parliamentary majority. Meanwhile the party’s traditional coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), didn’t win enough votes to earn any parliamentary seats.

After his victory at the polls on Sunday, Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust (CDU) discussed a new party openness to a partnership at a party meeting in Berlin on Monday. Beust said Chancellor Merkel and other party leaders had given him their approval.

Some Greens were optimistic about the possibility at a Monday committee meeting in Berlin. “It’s not about gaining governmental oversight at any price, but achieving political change,” said party leader Claudia Roth at the meeting. “We aren’t majority leaders, but we want our fundamental ideas to take hold in the government.”

But another Green party leader, Reinhard Bütikofer, was more skeptical during an interview on German public radio station Deutschlandfunk, citing controversial public school policies as an example of the many differences a coalition would need to overcome.

A “black-green” alliance, a nickname which refers to the party colors of the CDU and the Greens, would be the first of its kind for German state-level politics. The two parties are traditional adversaries, but in Hamburg it appears they may be able to find common ground now that the FDP is no longer a possible CDU partner. A coalition between The Greens and the CDU is the next best option for both parties as they face the growing popularity of The Left party, a development that complicates traditional party boundaries across the German political landscape.


How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP