German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) and German Finance Minister Christian Lindner need to find an agreement on the budget. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN


German Liberals threaten ruling coalition over debt


Thirty MPs of the Liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) said they would withdraw their support from the German traffic-light coalition if the Socialists (SPD) rack up more debt.

Germany’s budget problems are causing heightened tensions in Berlin and the FPD and SPD are on a collision course.

Speaking to Bild newspaper, Jens Teutrine, spokesman for the FDP’s Young Group of the Bundestag parliamentary faction, said: “It must be clear to everyone: Without the debt brake, without us, a rebellion of the Young Group could expand into the FDP uprising against the coalition and lead to the end of the traffic-light government.”

That echo’s an earlier interview in the Tagesspiegel newspaper in which he said: “Anyone who wants to repeal, undermine or soften the debt brake must look for a majority beyond the FDP.

“This ridiculous party-political power play by the Young Socialists and the Left is a public declaration of no confidence in [Chancellor] Olaf Scholz to the detriment of the federal government.”

The warning came as the administration in Berlin is debating the budget for 2025, aiming to pass it on July 3 – a goal that looks increasingly questionable.

FDP leader and finance minister Christian Lindner is working to block the Socialist Scholz from relaxing the constitutional debt brake, which limits new government debt to no more than 0.35 per cent of GDP a year.

If the budget for the coming year is not agreed, it would mean the end of the traffic-light coalition.

Socialists and Greens want to create more debt and the Liberals oppose that. Lindner called for strict limits on social spending and also identified savings potential in the budgets of other ministries.

The German Government needs to close a huge hole in its budget and difficult choices need to be made – just as the polls show voter discontent.

Johannes Vogel, the First Parliamentary Secretary of the FDP group, also chipped in, pointing out that the debt brake was part of the Constitution and was necessary.

“This provides a clear constitutional framework. This is fair to the generations and on top of that, particularly sensible, because the debt brake acts as a brake on inflation.”

At the same time, Scholz is feeling the heat on his Left flank, which wants to prevent cuts in social welfare. It would rather see “growth in these areas as well as significantly more investment in affordable housing, sustainable infrastructure, strong municipalities and ambitious climate protection”, a representative said.

On June 21 Forum DL21, a left-wing faction within the SPD, together with the youth organisation Juso and the senior-citizen working group AG 60 plus, sent an open letter to the magazine Der Spiegel, entitled: “Don’t cut back on our democracy, invest in our future!”

The three groups want to organise a membership petition by garnering the support of 20 per cent of the SPD, forcing the party leadership to support their demands or let the party base vote on them.