This is the headline in an article from today's Die Welt:

Mohring will Rot-Rot-Grün weder dulden noch tolerieren


I thought these words mean the same, but there may be some difference in the political context. If so, what do they mean here?

  • I think he refers to a loophole in the Thuringian constitution. If the parliament cannot agree on a new prime minister, it isn't dissolved and new elections are held automatically. Instead, the old prime minister stays in charge. While tolerieren is a fixed term meaning the CDU will elect Ramelow but not join his new government, the dulden means they tolerate the old Ramelow-led government through that loophole. That way they had not to elect a politician of Die Linke. Mohring denied both options.
    – Janka
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


Tolerieren in a parliamentary context refers to a more or less formal agreement between a party and a coalition where the latter will support the election of the coalition’s leader as minister-president/chancellor/mayor and will agree to support certain votes of that coalition but declines to formally join a coalition. It can be compared to the confidence and supply agreement the DUP and the Conservatives entered into after the 2017 UK election: an agreement that was distinct from the Conservative/Lib-dems coalition between 2010 and 2015 because in that case government ministers were members of both parties.

The German case of Tolerierung that I remember most was the attempted red/green minority government in Schleswig-Holstein tolerated by the party of the Danish minority in 2005. Although this constellation would have had a single vote of majority, Heide Simonis wasn’t elected minister-president because she lacked one vote (likely a social democratic one, if I recall the details correctly). In 2005, the Danish minority party decided its independence was more important than entering into a government with SPD and Greens; after the 2012 election the Danish minority party decided to enter a full coalition with these two resulting in their leader Spoorendonk becoming a minister.

Dulden, where it is not used as a non-Latin equivalent to tolerieren, does not have a formal definition in a parliamentary context. One way to understand it would be everything that equates to tolerieren but without the formal agreement. Another could be voluntarily supporting only the election of the minister-president if an absolute majority is required but no other vote. It is also conceivable that a Duldungsabkommen is signed in place of a Tolerierungsabkommen.

I think what Mohring wanted to convey is that there will be no support for a Left Party/SPD/Greens coalition in any way shape or from from the CDU.

  • The German case of Tolerierung that I remember most was the attempted red/green minority government in Schleswig-Holstein - you might be interested in the political term Magdeburger Model, named after the minority government in Sachsen-Anhalt from 1994-2002.
    – Arsak
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 10:41
  • @Arsak Yes, that was before I was interested in politics. Not by much but a little ;)
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 11:25
  • Danke für die informative Antwort.
    – Shoe
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 8:32
  • Do you happen to have references that support your arguments? Like e.g. the "formal definition" for the meaning of "tolerieren"?
    – Matthias
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 22:35
  • Den Definitionsversuch finde ich heikel. Eine Tolerierung ist eben keine formale Absprache, sondern eine informelle Übereinkunft, und daher auch nicht Terminologie des Wahlrechts oder der Verfassung in dem Zusammenhang. Eine Redaktion mag es so halten, zur Abkürzung den einen Begriff so, den anderen so zu verwenden - inhaltlich geben die Begriffe das aber nicht her. Man nimmt damit auch in Kauf die weniger gebildeten Leser in die Irre zu führen, die dann vielleicht meinen, das wäre etablierter Sprachgebrauch. Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 3:50

The two words tolerieren and dulden are, in the context of a minority government, completely synonymous. In particular both can be used when there is some kind of agreement between the parties that participate in the government and the party that only tolerates it.

Here are some examples and references:

Wird die Minderheitsregierung regelmäßig von bestimmten Fraktionen oder Abgeordneten unterstützt, so spricht man von Tolerierung oder Duldung. Das ist meist schon vor der Regierungsbildung vereinbart ... Source: mitmischen.de

Die regelmäßige Unterstützung der Minderheitsregierung durch Fraktionen, die – im Gegensatz zum Modell einer Koalition – nicht selbst an ihr beteiligt sind, wird als Tolerierung oder Duldung der Regierung durch diese Fraktionen bezeichnet. Source: Wikipedia

VVD und CDA verfügen zusammen über keine Mehrheit im Parlament Tweede Kamer. Sie sind auf Wilders' Partei für die Freiheit (PVV) angewiesen, mit der sie eine Duldungsvereinbarung unterzeichneten. Source: Der Spiegel

Die beiden früheren Mitglieder der sozialdemokratischen Fraktion im Abgeordnetenhaus, Milos Melcak und Michal Pohanka, haben am Freitag mit den Parteiführern der Regierungskoalition eine Vereinbarung über die Bedingungen zur Tolerierung der Dreierkoalition aus Bürgerdemokraten, Christdemokraten und Grünen unterzeichnet. Source: Czech Radio

Die spanischen Sozialisten haben entschieden, die Minderheitsregierung des Konservativen Rajoy zu tolerieren. ... Dennoch gibt es in der Partei starken Widerstand gegen die Duldung einer konservativen Regierung. Source: Deutschlandfunk

I believe that the usage of both words in his statement was just a rhethoric figure by Mr. Mohring to emphasize that he will in no way at all contribute to the election of a red-red-green government in Thuringia.

  • Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.
    – Shoe
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 11:09

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