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Germany – Berlin:
Olaf Scholz does not have 100 days of training, as new governments are usually given. He and the traffic light start with a kind of minus 40-day balance.Olaf Scholz is not to be envied for taking office. None of his predecessors came to power in the midst of such an acute crisis: 527 corona deaths, just the day before the election. A health system at its limits, increasingly uninhibited protests against the measures. And the new Omikron variant, which could make everything even worse. About Russia, the refugees at the external borders of the EU – not to mention the inflation.
No, the mood has little of the exuberant party of 1998, when a new generation, Gerhard Schröder and his red-green coalition, took their seats on the government bench. In 2005, too, when the Merkel era began with the polite, slightly hypothermic professionalism between the Union and the SPD, it was also different. The most pressing issues back then, youth unemployment and the growing national debt, read almost cute compared to today’s headlines. The change in power in 2021, on the other hand, is one in crisis mode. The new chancellor wears a black mask. Nobody is talking about the modernizations planned by the traffic light in social, environmental or social policy on this day: The virus and the crisis measures dominate the agenda: the next Prime Minister’s Conference is already tomorrow, the first with Scholz as Chancellor. Friday is about improvements to the Infection Protection Act. At the same time, the controversial vaccination requirement is to be discussed and voted on in the Parliament.
It’s good that the intermediate phase is over now.
No, Scholz does not have 100 days of training, as top politicians are usually given. He and the traffic light start with a kind of minus 40-day balance. That is roughly how long ago you announced that you would end the pandemic emergency and redesign the corona policy. Soon after, she had to revise several of her announcements. It was the first disappointment that the traffic light produced.
In the past few weeks, Scholz has noticed how merciless the demands that are made of this most important job in the country are. It is good that the intermediate phase between the Merkel era and this new government is now over. It has now been very clear since 10:20 a.m.: Olaf Scholz is responsible. The time of mutual blame between the old and the new government is over.
The new Chancellor has good prerequisites to do it “properly”, as he likes to put it with his own kind of understatement. Hardly any top politician has as much government experience as Scholz: Hardly anyone who has worked with him denies his expertise and conscientiousness. Now he will have to prove that he corresponds to the image of the crisis chancellor and the legitimate successor of Helmut Schmidt that he created of himself during the election campaign. Of course, Scholz is a bit boring.
Technocratic and hypothermic, as critics like to point out to him. In times of crisis, however, it may be easier to endure calm than hectic actionism. A Jamaica Chancellor Markus Söder might have stood for him. Scholz will also need his stoic manner to mend conflicts in his three-person constellation. They are preprogrammed in the pandemic policy. What is the FDP’s position on the compulsory vaccination and other protective measures that restrict individual rights? The Greens, too, have already seen how heavy the new responsibility is.
The traffic lights will now be measured by their own promises: 30 million vaccinations by Christmas should not be just an announcement. There will be no more curfews and school closings. If it turns out differently, the new government will be confronted with it on a daily basis. Aside from the acute crises, the traffic light has formulated itself the claim to be a real reform government. That is honorable, but it also harbors a lot of potential for disappointment. Because more climate protection, more digitization and a value-based foreign policy – all these promises sound good in the election campaign. In reality, implementing them will also be painful.
How is the balance of power developing? With the traffic light, a three-party alliance rules that extends beyond the traditional political camps. All three parties have formulated the claim to want to continue to govern beyond 2025. This at least makes it credible that everyone is counting on the success of this new project and seeing it as their historic opportunity. But will the SPD, FDP and the Greens feel bound by their values - confidentiality, community, great solutions – in the long term? Many of the new ministers are inexperienced in governance and portfolios.
It is also unclear how the balance of power between the three parties will develop over the course of the government. Is Lindner profiling himself as the new strong man of the bourgeois-conservative middle?
After Baerbock’s botched candidacy, does Habeck show how to do the right thing with maximizing votes as a new eco-people party? Or is Scholz proud to be the new long-term chancellor and start his social democratic decade? – The fact that the traffic light is not yet as stable as its peaks like to suggest to the outside world was already evident from the voting results of the Chancellor election. 15 MPs from the three parties refused to approve the new Chancellor. Of course, Scholz was still happy behind his mask.
He takes it on oath. As an old professional, he knows how much pressure his alliance is under. Angela Merkel watched him in the stands. In the past few weeks she has already felt the loss of power in office. But it also shows that in long reigns things can turn out differently than originally planned. She too once took up the position of reform chancellor. Soon she was accused of sitting out problems. That didn’t hurt their popularity.
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