It was an absurd situation. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) sits in the federal press conference on Tuesday to present a report on cybersecurity. The journalists also asked for a report that previously ran on the ticker: Seehofer, reportedly, gave up his opposition to an investigation into racism by the police after months. When asked about it, Seehofer laughs. He has not changed his position. There will be an investigation into difficulties and frustrations in daily police life. The study also discusses how to ensure that “zero tolerance” against right-wing extremism is enforced by security authorities in the future.
If you listen carefully, you will see that there is certainly some sort of compromise with SPD Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, who absolutely wants the study – but Seehofer doesn’t want to make it look like he gave in. Later his news agency even added a statement: “No racism study in the police”.
The union has enforced more powers for the secret services
The process says a lot about how the negotiations are currently taking place in the Groko. In fact, in recent days, the Union and the SPD have reached agreement on a whole host of contentious points. The result is compromises that are typical of this grand coalition: they are in black and white on paper, but what will eventually become in detail, the ideas on both sides differ widely.
[Wenn Sie alle aktuellen Entwicklungen zur Coronavirus-Pandemie live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können]
Much remains vague in Groko’s seven-point compromise note – not just for the purposes of the police investigation. In principle, the Union and the SPD have agreed to enshrine children’s rights in the Basic Law. However, as explicitly stated in the Groko decision: “There are now several proposals for this.” The same goes for the question of how to strengthen democracy in the country. The SPD wants to promote long-term civil society initiatives through federal means through a “Law on the Promotion of Democracy”. The Union is skeptical. That is why the aim is now to “create reliable framework conditions for activities and financing activities of the federal government” – which can be “flexibly interpreted”, as it is called in the SPD.
The Social Democrats were able to gain the upper hand with the demand for a racism officer. However, it should not be used until 2022, long after the end of the legislature. On the other hand, the Union continued to expand the powers of the secret services. Using source telecommunication monitoring, this encrypted communication must be readable into services such as Whatsapp.
There are always problems
It is unclear how the constitution will proceed with the term “race”: there have been discussions for months as to whether this should be removed from the basic law. “We aim to reach agreement on a corresponding amendment to the Basic Law as soon as possible,” it says. A specialist group from the Ministry of the Interior and Justice must work out a solution to the legally complex problem.
Minister Lambrecht of Justice and her cabinetmate Seehofer could soon collide again. The relationship between the two is tense – not just because of the racism study. There are always problems. For example, Lambrecht criticized the Seehofer ministry for a bill on the housing market that defied a Groko agreement. When the house of Lambrecht drew up a bill in the generic female, another shot came from the Ministry of the Interior. Seehofer’s performance at the press conference this week shouldn’t have improved the mood.