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The traffic light is wobbly, something that the chancellor and the coalition must improve

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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, sometimes seems unwell, abandoned by sense for the moment when it is sometimes necessary to spontaneously show some empathy. The scene where he, wearing a black mask, remains silent after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech instead of speaking became symbolic.

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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. But so far apparently only a fraction of the arms deliveries have reached Ukraine.

The Chancellery was also decimated by Corona

And there were other crises at the same time. He is ruling on the edge right now, and that needs to be emphasized. Schmidt and other leading employees of the Chancellery also fell ill with Corona, Scholz was almost exclusively on team or went on a trip due to Putin’s war.

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 omission of almost all the measures, including the obligation to wear masks in supermarkets, were more than gossip and wanted the chancellor to change her mind . 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 last break, he should have seen it coming. 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, for example in the supermarket, as a rule. In the second case, to show that, despite all justified criticism, Germany is doing and still wants to do something 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, no one can ask for that and the citizens appreciate his cool head, but in moments of great concern Scholz should perhaps try something more with symbolic gestures, especially 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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