Is Germany set to bring in Autobahn speed limit? Green party’s role in new government could see drivers forced to slow down on country’s famous roads
Germany could be set to bring in a speed limit on the country’s Autobahns when politicians agree a new government following an election last week.
Politicians have for years debated imposing an 80km-per-hour speed limit on the stretches of road which are famous for allowing motorists to drive as fast as they please.
The Green Party has pushed for the move as it would help reduce CO2 emissions and make roads safer, but has so far failed to push a speed limit through parliament.
But the party emerged as potential kingmakers coming third in the vote last week and could enter either a Traffic Light coalition with the Social Democrats (SDP) and Free Democrats (FDP) or a Jamaica coalition with the ruling CDU/CSU and FDP.
Both coalitions are expected to back the speed limit with the SDP already behind the move and the FDP agreeing to support the restriction as a concession to the Greens if they join the Jamaica coalition.
The Green Party (pictured, party leader Annalena Baerbock) has pushed for the move as it would help reduce CO2 emissions and make roads safer, but has so far failed to push a speed limit through parliament
Germany could be set to bring in a speed limit on the country’s Autobahns when politicians agree a new government following an election last week
Greens co-leader Robert Habeck said while campaigning in June the party would immediately introduce an autobahn speed limit if elected.
But it is thought the party will also seek a standard 19mph in cities as well as a 50mph limit on rural roads and push its anti-car policy nationwide once in government, the Local reported.
In the most recent government – a coalition of the SDP and CDU/CSU – the SDP pushed for a speed limit but the policy gained little traction.
Critics of the policy have said German roads are already safe enough and blasted restrictions as an infringement on people’s right to drive fast.
The German autobahn is the only European road network to have stretches without a speed limit – although an 80kmph max speed is recommended – in a law that was introduced by the Nazi party in 1939.
The 1973 global oil crisis, which increased oil costs by 400 per cent, led to the brief introduction of a speed limit but Germans have had the right to accelerate ever since.
Politicians have for years debated imposing an 80km-per-hour speed limit on the stretches of road which are famous for allowing motorists to drive as fast as they like
Sunday’s election saw the SDP win 25.7 per cent of the vote while the CDU/CSU managed on 24.6 per cent – the bloc’s worst-ever result in a national election.
The Greens, who made their first bid for the chancellery with co-leader Annalena Baerbock, were running in third place with 14.1 per cent, while the pro-business Free Democrats had 11.5 per cent of the vote.
No winning party in a German national election had previously taken less than 31 per cent of the vote.
The outcome has put Europe’s biggest economy on course for lengthy haggling to form a new government while Merkel stays on in a caretaker role until a successor is sworn in.
A three-party governing coalition, with two opposition parties that have traditionally been in rival ideological camps – the environmentalist Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats – would provide the likeliest route to power for leading candidates the SDP and CDU/CSU bloc.
Chancellery nominees CDU/CSU leader and Merkel’s successor Armin Laschet and SDP head Olaf Scholz will be courting the same two parties.
Scholz is understood to be in talks to form a so-called Traffic Light coalition, because of the red, green and yellow party colours, with the Greens and FDP.
Meanwhile Laschet is thought to be exploring a possible Jamaica coalition, after the black, yellow and green of the country’s flag, with the CDU/CSU Union, Greens and the FDP.
The Greens traditionally lean toward the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats toward the Union, but neither have ruled out going the other way.
Chancellery nominees CDU/CSU leader and Merkel’s successor Armin Laschet and SDP head Olaf Scholz (pictured) will be courting the same two parties
CDU leader and Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet on stage at the party headquarters after the exit polls were broadcast
The Free Democrats’ leader, Christian Lindner, appeared keen to govern, suggesting that his party and the Greens should make the first move.
In a post-election debate with all the party leaders on public broadcaster ZDF, Mr Lindner said: ‘About 75 per cent of Germans didn’t vote for the next chancellor’s party.
‘So it might be advisable…that the Greens and Free Democrats first speak to each other to structure everything that follows.’
Baerbock insisted that ‘the climate crisis…is the leading issue of the next government, and that is for us the basis for any talks…even if we aren’t totally satisfied with our result.’
While the Greens improved their support from the last election in 2017, they had higher expectations for Sunday’s vote.
The other option would be a repeat of the outgoing ‘grand coalition’ of the Union and Social Democrats that has run Germany for 12 of Merkel’s 16 years in power, but there was little obvious appetite for that after years of government squabbling.
‘Everyone thinks that…this “grand coalition” isn’t promising for the future, regardless of who is No. 1 and No. 2,’ Laschet said. ‘We need a real new beginning.’
Scholz said the results were ‘a very clear mandate to ensure now that we put together a good, pragmatic government for Germany’.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who decided against running for a fifth term after 16 years in power, bids farewell to her CDU party after presiding over its worst-ever election result