In Meseberg, the cabinet has pulled itself together and worked despite the disputes of recent weeks. They once again “hammered and knocked,” as Lindner describes it. The traffic light has cobbled together resolutions on three major topics: economy, bureaucracy and digitization.

After the delay caused by the family minister’s veto, the cabinet passed the Growth Opportunities Act today. It contains, among other things, 50 tax breaks. However, this is different than planned a few months ago. Lindner explained that the response to the economic situation was “agile”. The annual relief volume has grown to a good 7 billion euros for the period up to 2028 – increased by almost half a billion. In the future, 80 percent of company losses should no longer be tax deductible. Also new is the reintroduction of degressive depreciation for residential buildings – which is intended to promote new construction.

To reduce bureaucracy, the cabinet in Meseberg has decided on the key points for a law that is to be presented this year. This should also help the sluggish economy: the planned measures could save 2.3 billion euros a year. “Central decisions have been advanced” regarding digitalization, said Scholz. They want to make progress particularly in the health system. Within the next two years, e-prescriptions in doctor’s practices and electronic patient files are expected to become standard.

The summer break was productive for his cabinet, emphasized Scholz. Now it is up to the parliaments. The laws that have been passed still have to be passed by the Bundestag and Bundesrat. This is where it is decided how effective they will ultimately be. The therapy session of the cabinet in Meseberg, however, was successful for the moment: you work – if not silently.

Such exams are always about pictures. They convey a mood, as natural as possible, that contrasts with the reputation that precedes the government of being a fractious bunch. So there’s a lot of laughter, people show up together outside in the garden, and, of course, Olaf Scholz, Christian Lindner and Robert Habeck appear at the end to let the Republic know that the team spirit is right at the traffic lights. But what is always noticeable: It is above all the three men who shape the image of the traffic light, who communicate, who lead the way.

The entire power center of the government is male dominated. A quick overview: Scholz, Lindner and Habeck are joined by Wolfgang Schmidt, the head of the Chancellery, Steffen Hebestreit, the government spokesman and Steffen Saebisch, State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Lindner’s top assistant. Of course, politics can also work among men, but the preponderance is noticeable, especially in a chancellor’s cabinet, which should actually be equal. Although: Scholz also said goodbye to that when he replaced the hapless Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht with Boris Pistorius.

You can think what you want of Lisa Paus’ maneuver to block the Growth Opportunities Act right after the summer break. But it’s interesting. Did she perhaps just want to slip in between as a woman? In any case, it is certain that the entire squad of men did not see this attack coming. Possibly also because she believes too much that she can sort everything out among herself. It would probably help the government to think a little more equally, also when it comes to the center of the traffic light.

With all the harmony that the three government boys radiated, there is something that could still become a big problem: money. In other words: the lack of money. The question has always been a difficult one, because the bottlenecks in the household meant that some projects – such as basic child security – had to be shelved. And they meant that perhaps the biggest topic was left out of the exam: the question of whether energy-intensive companies should now be supported with subsidized electricity or not.

One could actually have expected that the conflict over the industrial electricity price would finally be resolved at a meeting that was supposed to provide an impetus for the economy. But it’s not that simple, it’s actually quite complicated. Because the project would cost billions. Because it raises tons of legal questions. Because the dispute does not follow the usual fronts. He goes right through the government.

Supported by the big unions, the SPD is largely in favour, as are the Greens. Lindner brakes. Because he has no money and, moreover, thinks that another government subsidy shouldn’t be planned again. Incidentally, the chancellor is more on Lindner’s side. The dispute has the potential to soon make Meseberg’s harmony forgotten again. Because Scholz’ Social Democrats of all people put a lot of pressure on. They said so directly to the chancellor at their own retreat this week. There’s a lot going on there.

In the first half of the legislature, the federal government did not want to succeed in one thing at all: to communicate success stories well – or to communicate them at all. In Meseberg, too, Olaf Scholz once again emphasizes that he is gradually fed up: No other government has made as many decisions in such a short time as his, he says, and yet everyone only talks about disputes. How to change that?

Robert Habeck throws strategy number one into the room: Well, actually, disputes are generally a strength: “We don’t show a static unity, but a learning unity.” So you learn from each other. Lindner conjures up an old craftsman’s wisdom out of the box in front of the Meseberg Castle: “We are a government in which people hammer and knock, you can hear that too.” Motto: Where there is planing, there are chips.

A new netiquette would be important for the cabinet, as the last three days have shown. Christian Lindner and Lisa Paus have just made up after their battle for basic child security. Paus had to take bad press, she was only able to fight for 2.4 billion for her social reform. A day later, Hubertus Heil announced an increase in the standard rates of citizen income from 2024 by 12 percent. Great news, but strange timing. He steps on Paus’ feet and the message is lost in the many analyzes of basic child security, all of which say: The traffic light does not do enough for the poor. Ouch.

From now on, the cabinet should be equipped with silencers, says Scholz in Meseberg. So that the “many, important” decisions and results don’t get lost because they were worked on “too loudly”. Maybe he has to explain that to Christian Lindner in more detail, because even in Meseberg he switches to attack mode at the slightest provocation. When a reporter asked how the Chancellor would deal with objections from the FDP parliamentary group to legislative initiatives by the government, for example, Lindner interjected: “Sorry, your question seems a bit monochromatic to me.”

With all the confusion, the bad polls and the grumpiness of some ministers, one sometimes gets the impression that this government may soon come to an end. What you sometimes forget: it can go on for a long time. The traffic lights now start the second half of the season, if you will. She still has two years until the next federal government. “We are probably done with the most complicated projects now,” Wolfgang Schmid, the head of the Chancellery, told Stern. That means: From now on everything will be easier.

This is of course a very benevolent view. In this scenario, there is no conflict over the industrial electricity price, nor are there any unforeseeable geopolitical developments or economic catastrophes. But what makes the chancellor’s team so confident is the following calculation: In election campaigns, everything rearranges itself. The opposition is far from organized. And anyone who complains about the government these days may be asking themselves shortly before the election who they actually prefer to be governed by. Scholz will draw on his experience – at least those around the chancellor are firmly convinced of that.

Everything that seems like a weakness at the moment should then be a strength: the Chancellor’s long-windedness could then have a calming effect, the indecisiveness like prudence. By the way: The FDP and the Greens should also have an interest in things going a little quieter from now on. Anyone who constantly talks about their own government in a bad mood is unattractive. The SPD experienced this for years in the grand coalition. Scholz drove it out of his party as a candidate for chancellor.