Olaf Scholz: Chancellor about to make a comeback? Suddenly his opponents stumble

Olaf Scholz: Chancellor about to make a comeback? Suddenly his opponents stumble

Olaf Scholz may be in a weak position – but his opponents are even weaker. And in the background, the economic outlook is improving.

He was just standing in the shadow of the French rock star, er, President Emmanuel Macron. He hasn’t been doing particularly well in the polls for a long time. He is also constantly struggling to hold together his pugnacious coalition, which could easily fall apart in a tussle over the budget. But Olaf Scholz is lucky: his opponents are making an even worse impression right now.

Merz is not living up to his potential

Actually, the situation for Friedrich Merz could hardly be better. The federal government is preoccupied with itself. The budget dispute is unresolved. Merz himself was just re-elected as party leader with a strong result. And not even Markus Söder is causing much trouble these days. So things are going well for Merz. You might think.

The reality is different. The CDU and CSU are not living up to their potential, appear surprisingly vulnerable, and are even slipping in some polls. Just this week, bad Forsa figures landed on Merz’s desk – including when it came to confidence in himself. He is now behind Olaf Scholz in the preference for chancellor. The only consolation is that things are not looking up for the SPD either.

“Grandma Courage” loses her nerve

No, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann was never a fan of the Chancellor. The FDP’s top candidate for the EU elections is a perpetually agitated tormentor of the head of government, and is only too happy to express her displeasure at Scholz’s constant deliberations in public – this is part of the core brand of the opinionated defense politician, who is currently having herself advertised as “Grandma Courage” and “Eurofighter”.

Now Strack-Zimmermann has struck again – and missed the mark. She called the Chancellor a “crass know-it-all” who had “autistic traits”. A slip-up that is at least tasteless, even in election times. And it closes the SPD ranks behind Scholz. Strack-Zimmermann offers her comrades the appropriate evidence for the narrative that the Chancellor is the only one who doesn’t lose his nerve.

Chancellor of the Reserve on the Defensive

His I’ll-do-it-now mentality has made Boris Pistorius the most popular minister in Germany. Couldn’t he perhaps be the better SPD candidate for chancellor? As a tough counterpoint to the tight-lipped Scholz? But now the defense minister himself has found himself on the defensive – with his prestige project. For months he has been working on a highly anticipated military service reform. After he outlined the key points to the SPD executive committee behind closed doors, it was immediately revealed that Pistorius’ model was based primarily on voluntary participation. So no conscription after all? Yes, yes, the minister hastened to clarify in the “Zeit” newspaper, the reform does contain a compulsory element. So what now?

The unpleasant impression: The SPD leadership, which is relying on the peace chancellor in the election campaign, is letting its popular minister down. Scholz has an advantage: his rival, who has grown up in Pistorius, has been thwarted.

Suddenly far right

Scholz once belittled the AfD as a “bad-mood party”, but there is something to that: the mood among the right-wing populists was much better. A clear drop in the polls, no victory in the local elections in Thuringia, more and more revelations about Russian and Chinese influence – and now the AfD has become too right-wing even for the extreme right in the EU Parliament. Has the self-proclaimed alternative lost its magic? In any case, it is clearly on the decline. And it is providing the SPD chancellor with plenty of ammunition for the election campaign.

Merchants suddenly have less reason to complain

A few months ago, BDI President Siegfried Russwurm complained about “two lost years” and thereby captured the mood of many business leaders: things are going miserably in the country. Their analysis: Industry is losing orders, prices are too high, and growth is lacking. Is that still true?

A real economic boom is still a long way off. But some indicators point to a trend reversal, at least in terms of prices and consumer confidence. A few examples? Inflation has fallen sharply since last year. Real wages rose more in the first quarter than they have for a long time. Germans are spending more again, as the relevant indices show. If this trend continues, the process could reinforce itself. Because if private consumption increases, economic growth should also increase. And the better the confidence in the economic situation, the more consumers are willing to spend.

Will this increase satisfaction with the work of the federal government? That is exactly what the Chancellor is counting on. The only problem is that there is still a lot of room for improvement in this regard.

Source: Stern

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