Chancellor Angela Merkel’s nuclear phase-out is causing deep divisions in the German business community. The only issue where there seems to be any agreement across industry lines is that more government subsidies are going to be needed as the price of electricity rises.
Renate Künast is in great demand these days, especially among industry representatives. Invitations from business associations and chambers of commerce are starting to pile up on her desk. Jürgen Hambrecht, the outgoing CEO of the chemical giant BASF, even wrote her a warm-hearted letter of appreciation. “I have noticed a growing interest in the Green Party among business leaders,” says Künast, the parliamentary floor leader of Germany’s Greens who is also running to become Berlin’s next mayor.
The business community is adapting to the new political realities, and it’s doing so with typically German attention to detail.
Only a year ago, corporate CEOs and the heads of industrial trade groups were imploring the German government to keep the country’s nuclear power plants up and running for as long as possible. Today, in the wake of the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant and the government’s decision to speed up Germany’s nuclear phase-out, the same corporate bosses are applauding the chancellor for her shift in policy, courting the Green Party and clearing away established political tenets at a rate that’s dizzying even for their allies in parliament.
“I can only marvel at the change of position of some industry groups,” says Michael Fuchs, the deputy floor leader for the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).