Traffic light dispute: It has never been as grueling as with this coalition

Traffic light dispute: It has never been as grueling as with this coalition

The traffic light coalition is arguing, the media reports. It’s not a pleasure for either side. Our author is bored by arguments. He asks himself: Do I still have to understand this?

Recently, an actually smart government person told some journalists about life in the traffic light coalition. That it is tedious, but definitely results-oriented; that a lot has already been achieved, but unfortunately, public disputes keep doing journalists a “favor”. A favor? I think that’s a mistake. The coalition doesn’t do me any favors with arguments. On the contrary: they bore me.

The most recent example: statements by the FDP general secretary. Bijan Djir-Sarai told “Bild am Sonntag” that he would rather govern with the Union than with the SPD and the Greens. The report made it to second place in the “Tagesschau” and was featured in many newspapers. But let’s be honest: what’s the point?

Traffic light coalition: Some arguments are a lot of ado about chatter

The question is not whether I understand it. The question is: Do I still have to understand this? Do I even have to make an effort to understand this? A few weeks ago, the FDP members decided to continue governing in the traffic light. And now the Secretary General is talking about the opposite again. There is no majority in parliament for black-yellow, there is no majority in the polls for black-yellow. What there is is just a bunch of problems in which the liberals have their share, although not alone.

Of course, I could now analyze Djir-Sarai’s statements, interpret his intentions and speculate to what extent party leader Christian Lindner was behind them. I could argue with the polls, weigh up the threat potential of the FDP within the coalition or guess what target group Djir-Sarai has in mind (to be honest: I have no idea…). But no matter how I turn it back and forth, in the end Djir-Sarai’s words remain just chatter.

All of this is far too cheap – for journalists and politicians

Yes, I know the media is doing its part in this emptying. I alone have probably written thousands of articles in my life that began something like this: “The coalition is arguing about…” That was the case for many years before the traffic lights. And for a long time I was pretty keen on it too.

Dispute is part of democracy; ideally, it documents the struggle for the best way or a fair compromise. Wars, climate change, housing shortages, social imbalances and much more provide enough material for intensive, interesting debates. There is a reporting requirement for this, especially if it is controversial.

But this argument for the sake of an argument, the provocation for the sake of the headline, the taunts and postcards – I find that more grueling about this coalition than any other before. And I stand by it: We journalists are not the ones who cause it, but rather the ones who deliver it.

Which brings us to the crucial point: Do you even want to be told whether Bijan Djir-Sarai would prefer to govern with the Union? I do not believe it. And that’s exactly what bothers me about our interlocutor’s idea that the coalition is doing us “a favor.” It’s all far too cheap for that – too cheap for us journalists to get and too cheap for politicians to interest people. That’s why traffic lights not only harm themselves, they also harm us.

Of course we will still continue to report stuff like this. I then convince myself that the meaningfulness of some statements can sometimes even lie in their complete meaninglessness. What’s important to me is that if you shake your head while reading it, you should know that it’s no fun for us journalists either.

Source: Stern

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