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The German Government's First Report Card

Although Germany's three-party coalition government inherited multiple brewing crises when it came to power 100 days ago, it has risen to the occasion in many ways. But with each of the parties already having had to abandon some of its core principles, maintaining unity will be an ongoing challenge.

BERLIN – The time-honored American tradition of assessing a government’s first 100 days has found its way to Germany, where pundits are scoring the performance of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Ampelkoalition (“traffic light coalition”), comprising the Social Democrats (SPD), the Free Democrats (FDP), and the Greens.

The Ampelkoalition is Germany’s first three-party government since the 1950s. To make it work, each party has had to bend on sacred principles and adopt policy positions that previously would have seemed unthinkable. And while that would have been a remarkable achievement in the best of times, no incoming government since the Federal Republic’s founding in 1949 has faced a more challenging start, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and, even more, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

German politics have changed dramatically almost overnight. For a country that prefers consensual, deliberative decision-making and no-surprises, many of the recent, sudden policy shifts have been profound and will alter Germany’s domestic and foreign-policy trajectory for decades to come. But if Scholz fails to manage the short-term fallout of these changes, and the inevitable tensions they will create within the coalition, his chancellorship could be the shortest-lived since the Weimar Republic.

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