Welcome to the Nuclear-Free Future Award.
28SEPT’09–The Germans went to the polls in record lows and voted more than ever for special interest parties. The big winners were the pro-pocketbook Free Democrat Party (FDP), the reformed communist The Left party, and the environmentalist Greens.
The two traditional Volksparteien, the CDU with its Bavarian sister CSU, and the SPD, received only 58% of the vote. Compare that percentage to 78% in 2001, 82% in 1987, and over 90% in 1972.
Commentators called the election results, ‘historic.’ Angela Merkel, the German chancellor famous for her gift of non-expression, glossed over any historicism by grinning into cameras exactly as accustomed. Her message being: read my lip gloss.
Chancellor Merkel, a DDR-degreed physicist, is nuclear power pro-nostalgic. The CDU platform paper calls it a ‘Brückentechnologie’ (bridging technology). Her new coalition partner, the FDP, uses a slightly different term: ‘Übergangstechnologie’ (transition technology).
Both words mean this: the German nuclear phase-out implemented by Gerhard Schroeder’s SPD-led government will be pushed-back, reactor licenses extended beyond the law’s 2021 cut-off.
Another important legacy of the Schroeder SPD/Green coalition government is the Renewable Energy Sources Act. This key law, authored by Nuclear-Free Future Award recipient Hans-Peter Fell, obliges grid operators to pay fixed feed-in tariffs for electricity won from renewable sources.
This lucky law has gained popularity all across the German political spectrum – even the FDP has come to see its far-reaching importance: fixed feed-in tariffs, creating thousands of Green jobs, have helped Germany become the world’s first address in wind technology.
Still, using the recovering economy as an excuse, the Merkel-Westerwelle government will short-sightedly shorten renewable energy subsidies, particularly to solar power, which runs on panels ‘Made in China.’
The happy fallout of Germany’s change of power is Guido Westerwelle’s – the first openly gay leader of a mainstream German party (FDP) – insistence that the USA remove its last nuclear warheads from German soil. Westerwelle is Merkel’s foreign minister shoe-in.