Just to ensure that the business-friendly Free Democrats didn’t think he was asking too much of them, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck took pains to signal that he was actually putting his own party, the Greens, to the test. That, after all, is what one must do in coalition governments. On Monday, after explaining to lawmakers from his own party that he wanted to keep two nuclear plants on standby this winter to deal with possible energy shortages, he walked down the hall of the Reichstag – home of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag – to address a meeting of FDP parliamentarians. Even though his Green Party has been in a coalition with the FDP and the Social Democrats (SPD) since last December, it marked Habeck’s first visit to the FDP parliamentary group. But there was no way around it.
Participants say that he started by telling the liberals that he had just addressed his own party. "You can imagine," he said, "that my proposal didn’t trigger an outpouring of enthusiasm." That, though, wasn’t totally true. The Greens had actually steeled themselves for worse.