In the Bundestag, the Chancellor and the opposition leader clash violently. Merz is terminating its collaboration with the traffic light. Scholz accuses him of “cowardice”. Only a hate attack from the AfD unites the sides.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) defended the much criticized course of the traffic light government in the Bundestag across the board and attacked opposition leader Friedrich Merz head-on. In the general debate during the budget deliberations on Wednesday, the Chancellor, in a combative speech, accused the CDU/CSU parliamentary group leader of shirking responsibility by withdrawing from a “Germany pact” with the government. “I have never seen so much cowardice before one’s own courage.”
Merz had previously asked Scholz to save his appeals for cooperation. “These calls are nothing more than pure political rhetoric,” said Merz. The experiences of the past two years have shown that the coalition is not seriously interested in real cooperation. Where the Union has agreed, as with the special fund for the Bundeswehr, the government is not sticking to the agreements. Merz therefore also ruled out agreeing to a weakening of the debt brake.
Only Weidel’s speech unites the government and the opposition
The traffic light coalition and the Union were united by the speech by AfD leader Alice Weidel, who accused the government of cutting a “path of destruction” through Germany. “There is a fire in Germany. And the government made up of overwhelmed, incorrectly appointed people and stubborn ideologues is the arsonist,” she said. “This government hates Germany.”
Even CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt went too far. “This government governs badly, but it doesn’t hate this country,” he said. Other speakers also sharply criticized Weidel for her statements. After the revelations about the meeting of radical right-wingers in Potsdam and the wave of demonstrations against the right, the tone of all other parliamentary groups towards the AfD is noticeably worsening.
“Germany Pact” probably finally done
However, the unity on the AfD does not change the fact that the “Germany pact” initiated by Scholz almost six months ago with the opposition to modernize the country is now finally over. At the beginning of September, Scholz reached out to the states and the “democratic opposition” in the Bundestag in the last general debate and proposed such a pact to modernize Germany, which should also cover the issue of migration. At the time, the Chancellor expressly included CDU leader Merz in his offer.
There were then two meetings between the two, one of which was also attended by CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt. However, after the federal and state governments agreed on a package of measures to combat illegal migration, Merz stopped working on a “Germany pact” in November. “I don’t see any willingness on the part of the Chancellor at the moment to substantially continue the talks with us,” he said.
Scholz accuses Merz of being “hasty-footed”.
Scholz criticized this in the Bundestag as ducking. “I’ve never experienced such hare-footedness, running away from one’s own responsibility, Mr. Merz.” Scholz sees the reason for this as Merz wanting to keep “the beautiful topic” of migration as a target. If you get illegal immigration under control, you can no longer say that everything is going wrong.
The Chancellor’s first speech in the Bundestag this year was eagerly awaited. Scholz is under massive pressure because of the disputes in the traffic light government, the protests against his budget plans and miserable poll numbers. People within their own ranks would also like to see different, more offensive communication from the Chancellor. Scholz has to “fight back,” party leader Lars Klingbeil has recently demanded. He should be satisfied with Scholz’s speech.
The Chancellor was so combative that we have rarely seen him. However, there was no longer any sign of the self-criticism that was evident in a “Zeit” article published last week. Scholz defended the course of his traffic light government across the board and listed the successes that he believed his government had achieved.
“If you box, you shouldn’t have a glass chin”
The fact that he attacked Merz so sharply may also have something to do with the last debate between the two in November. At that time, Scholz made his government statement on the historic ruling with which the Federal Constitutional Court overturned the traffic light’s budget planning. “You can’t do it,” Merz accused Scholz at the time and described him as the “plumber of power”. During his own speech, Scholz was laughed at by the opposition in the plenary session.
In this respect, his appearance on Wednesday can also be seen as revenge. “What does your political program actually have to do with the future of Germany? Nothing, that’s the answer,” the SPD politician told the CDU leader. And he recommended that Merz take it sportily: “If you are criticized, then you are a mimosa,” said the Chancellor. “I think anyone who boxes shouldn’t have a glass chin. But you have a really nice glass chin, Mr. Merz.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.