In Berlin, with the time of the incumbent federal government, that of Saarland dominance will also come to an end.

The small country had cabinet members far in excess of their fee.

Now, one jokes in Mainz, the time of the Palatinate dominance has dawned.

After all, two of the designated ministers come from there: Anne Spiegel, designated family minister, and Volker Wissing, soon to be Minister of Transport.

Both have already ruled together in Rhineland-Palatinate, also in a traffic light coalition.

Will this also shape the style for the federal government?

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland based in Wiesbaden.

  • Follow I follow

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD and the Greens are very close in terms of content and personnel. Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) describes herself as a “Red-Green”, and her first government, succeeding Kurt Beck, was one of them. Since the Greens just managed to make the leap into the state parliament in 2016, they had to rely on the FDP. The Liberals became the second strongest force in the first traffic light coalition and with Wissing, who was then Minister for Economic Affairs, also provided Dreyer's deputy. In the coalition negotiations, the FDP was actually in the position of kingmaker. But from the point of view of critics in Mainz she made little of it. The government work that followed did not pay off for them, in the state elections in March the Greens were able to almost double their election results,they became the second strongest force in the new edition of the coalition.

The way they were dealt with, however, remained the same: calm, discreet and respectful of one another.

Everyone gets freedom for politics for their own voters in their niche.

That went well in the country because there was no need to decide on sensitive issues such as taxes - and because there was enough money.

Conflicts, especially between Greens and Liberals, could be avoided in this way.

The "double knowledge"

But it also went well because the people involved trusted each other. There were stress tests. The lawyer Wissing was Minister of Economic Affairs until May of this year, and in September 2020 he also became FDP General Secretary in the federal government. In the state election campaign, he dared to do a balancing act and shot from Berlin against measures in the corona policy, which he was defending in the country. That is why there was often talk of a “double knowledge”. That only worked because it was clear that Wissing would go to Berlin after the election. And because of the fact that there is no friendship with Dreyer, but a relationship of trust.

Wissing is described by the former coalition partners as well as by the opposition as a reliable person, as a "clear type". The FDP ruled together with the SPD for many years under Beck. In terms of his regulatory views, however, Wissing is anything but socially liberal. It was rather the traumatic experience of the black-yellow coalition under Merkel that brought him into the arms of the SPD. Wissing's now rather vague announcement that motorists will not expect too high diesel prices in the wake of a possibly higher diesel fuel tax is described as appropriate in Mainz. Wissing is a bourgeois politician from an area where high fuel prices are an important issue. Members of the Greens were outraged by Wissing's statements,criticized a "backward-looking and future-forgotten" transport policy. Such excitement would be unimaginable in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The "double mirror"

Wissing's successor as Minister of Economic Affairs has been Daniela Schmidt since May.

When dealing with political partners, she is described as being just as calm and reliable as Wissing, while her demeanor is significantly less intellectual.

For critics, Schmidt is also an example of how quickly you can make a career in small parties.

More recent examples are also offered by the Rhineland-Palatinate Greens.

The rapid rise of the designated Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Anne Spiegel, leaves several gaps there.

The forty-year-old was temporarily in charge of the family ministry and, after Ulrike Höfken's resignation, also temporarily headed the environment ministry.

After the election, she kept the much larger Ministry of the Environment and became Deputy Prime Minister.

The co-party chairman of the Greens in the state, Josef Winkler, rated her departure to Berlin as the “greatest political success of the Greens in Rhineland-Palatinate”.

Above all, however, the jump in Mainz is assessed as "brave" and it is pointed out that Spiegel recently headed a "dwarf ministry" with the state family ministry.

The Greens recently appointed Katrin Eder to succeed her office as Environment Minister.

The 45-year-old from Mainz has only been State Secretary under Spiegel since May; before that, she was the head of the environment in her hometown for a long time.

In the role she was seen as a stimulating figure and stood out for her consistent advocacy for cyclists.

It will be interesting to see how she will now make politics for the whole country, say her critics, in Mainz she had not taken the suburbs into account.

Eder is considered more ideological than the binding Spiegel, her appointment could cause tension in the traffic light alliance.

But so far everyone has calmly fitted into it.

This also applies to the other Green Minister, Family Minister Katharina Binz, who also succeeded Spiegel.

It is still unclear who will be Dreyer's deputy in the future.

The Greens last said that you couldn't clarify all personal details within 24 hours.