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16.05.2016

Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit

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How to Negotiate, Manage and Consolidate Coalitions

Ralph Sterck (r.) with the African delegation in the town hall
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Ralph Sterck (r.) with the African delegation in the town hall
Ralph Sterck (r.) with the African delegation in the town hall
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Ralph Sterck (r.) with the African delegation in the town hall
Programme for Political Partners from West Africa
Not long ago, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom welcomed a West African delegation from Senegal and Cote d`lvoire who wanted to be informed about how coalitions are negotiated, managed and consolidated in North Rhine-Westphalia. The programme aimed at giving the delegation members, who mostly had already attended a coalition training seminar in Dakar, some insight into the German political landscape and to exchange their views regarding the factors for stable coalitions with experienced liberal politicians.

The program started in Brussels a few days earlier, where the group met several representatives, who have been dealing with that subject at the European level. In Germany the group had its first meeting in the town hall of Leverkusen. Monika Ballin-Meyer-Ahrens, chairwoman of the Leverkusen FDP-council group, took her time to show the delegation the council’s meeting room. She then shared her experience with multi-party coalitions at the local level, using the example of the so-called Jamaica Coalition.

The German political system and coalition-building in Germany were the main subject of the workshop with Roland Werner, former Deputy Minister and State Secretary in the Saxon State Ministry. Topics of the workshop included human factors in coalition negotiations, different conditions in the new and old German states, channels of communication and the position of the FDP.

A special highlight was the visit to the regional parliament in Düsseldorf. Being guests at the plenary meeting, the participants had the opportunity to listen to the national chairman and regional chairman of the FDP in NRW, Christian Lindner addressing the low economic growth in North Rhine-Westphalia. His speech was followed by a heated debate about the root causes, as NRW currently ranks lowest among the German states. Angela Freimuth, vice chairman of the FDP’s parliamentary group in the regional parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia shared her experience in working in a government coalition with the delegation. A tour of the parliamentary building rounded off the visit.

At the Theodor Heuss Academy in Gummersbach the delegation had the opportunity to discuss the subject of future coalition-building with Jan-Frederik Kremer, Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. In 2015 the Selfkant-opposition consisting of SPD, Pro Selfkant, FDP and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen had appointed Mr. Jan-Frederik Kremer as their joint candidate for the mayoral election in Selfkant. That coalition process was discussed lively.

The questions of liberalism at the international level, the history of Germany and why another political landscape has established in Germany were in the focus of the workshop with Wulf Pabst, seminar leader of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

On the last day the delegation visited Ralph Sterck, leader of the FDP group in the Cologne Council. Being a long-time liberal politician, he was able to talk about many coalition-building processes of the FDP in Cologne. The delegation was particularly interested in the alliance formed between the CDU and the Greens to support the election of the current mayor Ms. Henriette Reker. When taking a look at the campaign publications, the participants got an idea of the different interests, needs and sensitivities of the allies. The alliance is still working successfully. Finally Mr. Sterck showed the delegation the town hall and the council’s meeting room.

The delegation had the opportunity to exchange views on the various types of coalitions with liberal politicians of the regional and municipal level. The fact that the meeting partners had different backgrounds was very helpful for the Delegation’s understanding of the federal system of Germany and to take home many new ideas.

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