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Thursday, May 26, 2022

In times of great concern, Scholz lacks empathy

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Olaf Scholz has read Max Weber’s essay “Politics as a Profession” several times. The sociologist was fascinated by leaders with charisma. Scholz characterizes himself as a politician who draws his credibility from the charisma of realism. He is not a tribune of the people, and he does not want to be either, today’s chancellor once told “Spiegel”. He believes that the sober type is valued in times of crisis, even though he doesn’t exude charisma, due to his calm and practical nature.

That may explain why Scholz is currently the most popular politician, since the attitude towards Angela Merkel is no longer questioned. But these days, the chancellor, who is solid down to the last detail, seems strangely unwell, abandoned by the feeling of the moment that it is sometimes necessary to show some empathy. The scene in which he, in a black mask, is silent after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj’s speech became a symbol, instead of speaking spontaneously.

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These weeks of war will shape his entire mandate. At first he made historic decisions and seemed to be a strong leader. Arms deliveries to a warring party, 100 billion euros in special funds for the German armed forces, unlimited admission of people from Ukraine. “What a day,” said his chancellery chief, Wolfgang Schmidt, on the day of decisions on February 26.

The Chancellery was also decimated by Corona

But there were other crises at the same time. Schmidt and other leading employees of the Chancellery fell ill with Corona, Scholz was almost exclusively in the team or went on a trip due to the Putin war. Countries complained about the lack of consultation.

The world was different then: Olaf Scholz, Annalena Baerbock, Robert Habeck and Christian Lindner on the day…Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa

In the shadow of the war, pressure from the FDP, notably from its Minister of Justice, Marco Buschmann, resulted in a coronavirus relief package in which the federal states barely got involved. 16 minutes of statements by all the heads of government, including those of the SPD, criticizing the case of almost all the measures up to the requirement of a mask in the supermarket, were more than gossip and were supposed to get the chancellor to change of style. Ignore the concerns of countries with less arrogance, but involve everyone on an equal footing. This country now needs a strong federal-state axis.

Scholz is partly responsible for the latest breakup. On the day with the highest number of new corona infections, almost 300,000, the traffic light has already signaled his plan in the Bundestag.

Scholz likes to make plans. Does that work right now?

The Scholz system is about stoically moving forward once a decision has been made. He also ignored CDU parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz’s request to speak in the Bundestag after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj’s emotional speech. Scholz preferred to stick to the agenda. In both cases it would have been better to take the risk.

In the first case, a conflict with the FDP, to at least continue with more comprehensive mask requirements as a rule, in the second case, to show that Germany is doing and still wants to do a lot, despite all justified criticism. to help Ukraine. Why doesn’t the chancellor communicate like Joe Biden that Germany is also ready to hand over more weapons?

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The traffic light seems overwhelmed, especially two ministers

The traffic light did not close from the first day. However, she seems remarkably overwhelmed these days, which is not to blame given the overlapping of various crises. But two SPD ministers handpicked by Scholz, Nancy Faeser (interior) and Christine Lambrecht (defence), are a nuisance and only seem up to enormous challenges so far.

Lambrecht does not involve the opposition enough either, which is criticized there. Without the CDU/CSU, however, there will not be the necessary 2/3 majority for the Basic Law to be amended to anchor a special €100 billion fund for the Bundeswehr.

The FDP should reconsider its role

Sure, the pressure is great right now, time is short. many of them are new, and Russia’s energy dependency must now be reduced at record speed. But the next problem is homegrown: From the very beginning, the smallest party, the FDP, made its mark in the coalition, acting more ideologically in Corona than the Greens in climate protection. This paralyzes the coalition and fuels mistrust.

More about the Ukrainian war on Tagesspiegel Plus:

The fact that Christian Lindner also had his half-hearted ideas for a tank discount for “Bild” transferred was the first serious foul play of the coalition. Until now, the consensus has been to discuss projects internally first. Scholz should not underestimate how angry some Greens are. And Lindner, like the entire FDP, should act a little more “team friendly.” Squinting at state elections are pretty small squares when you look at kyiv.

The government must also better engage the largest opposition party, the Union. Scholz will still need them. From what has been heard, there is growing concern that Vladimir Putin may be ready for even bigger escalations.

Scholz could visit refugees from Ukraine

For the realistic and professional politician Scholz, everything has become unthinkable under Putin. The chancellor will no longer be just another politician because of his charisma, but in moments of great concern Scholz should perhaps try to show a little more empathy, also towards Ukraine. For example, it is only a few hundred meters from the Foreign Ministry to people who have fled a bombed country arriving at the main train station.


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