Germany takes small step towards OGP

Foto: Tobias Koch/www.tokography.com
Fotograf: Tobias Koch www.tobiaskoch.net

Today, negotiations over an upcoming “black-red” grand coalitiongovernment in Germany took a decisive step forward with the conclusion over a coalition agreement that will be the basis for forming a government, many weeks after the general elections of September 22. The elections resulted in no clear majorities, and ejected the liberal democrats (FDP) from the legislature due to the 5 percent threshold. The NSA revelations seemed to play no role in these elections, neither did internet and civil rights topics in general. For the same reason, the German Pirate Party and the euro-sceptic Alternative for Germany were also barred entry. The two future coalition partners will combine about 80 percent of the seats and will be able to govern with a super-majority that will render the remaining opposition of Greens and Left powerless. The center right CDU/CSU and center left SPD have governed before – with mediocre results. A red-red-green coalition fell apart mostly due to the SPD’s refusal to enter any government with the Left party.

Several rounds of negotiations yielded in a much shortened coalition agreement, that leaves much to desired and is by no means an indicator for a very progressive upcoming legislature. A few things however found their way into the final text, that are worth mentioning, such as a commitment to open data, andthe intention to join the Open Government Partnership. Civil society lobbyingand support from the SPD ensure that the subcommittee on digital issues left this commitment in the agreement. It is however no guarantee that it will actually happen. First of all only the declaration of government will actually mean something like a roadmap, and also the record for issues from coalition agreements that are actually implemented is usually bad.

It is however a small success, it means the OGP is finally officially on a legislative agenda, and the next months will show whether the next cabinet, that is currently hashed out, will reaffirm this commitment, especially once new official diplomatic invitations by other OGP countries will start coming in (again). Insiders know that the biggest stumbling block to open government in Germany is a lack of high level commitment, so what will eventually move things ahead is the question of who Ms Merkel surrounds herself with in the chancellery and who will occupy the influential interior ministry which is responsible for administrative reform agendas, including open government and open data.

As this blog post goes live, the opposition, consumer rights groups, unions and the press are ripping the agreement apart as a lowest common denominator and even a “stand still signal” for the economy.

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