Policy conflicts have made 'traffic light' coalition frustratingly hard to manage
German Chancellor OIaf Scholz has insisted that his coalition government will quickly resolve a dispute over child benefits that has marred attempts to put months of damaging public infighting behind it.
Center-left Social Democrat Scholz leads a coalition of three parties that are broadly socially liberal. But their approaches to economic and other issues are often at odds, with particularly sharp contrasts between the coalition's two junior partners: the environmentalist, traditionally left-leaning Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats.
The two squabbled at length earlier this year over a plan to replace fossil-fuel home heating systems, which helped drag down the government's poll ratings.
Top officials had hoped to project a more united image after the summer break, but more trouble erupted as the Cabinet held its first post-vacation meeting on August 16th.
Lisa Paus, the Green minister for families, blocked a plan by Free Democrats leader and Finance Minister Christian Lindner for tax relief for companies, meant to help Germany's stuttering economy.
Her move came after she had spent months trying to secure more money from Lindner to fund an expansion of child benefits, a proposal that many Free Democrats view skeptically.
In comments published in the Mediengruppe Bayern newspaper group on Saturday, Scholz insisted that the government "will clear up" the child benefit plan "by next week" – and said he "can only warn against" further public arguments.
"We should concentrate more on highlighting the successes of the government's work and conduct the necessary discussions about our plans internally," Scholz added.
In the past two weeks, the Cabinet has approved major parts of the coalition's social reform agenda — plans to ease rules for obtaining German citizenship, liberalise rules on the possession and sale of cannabis, and make it easier for transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to change their gender and name in official registers.
The Cabinet is due to meet at a government guest house outside Berlin on Tuesday and Wednesday.