Scholz is Sinking but Not Giving Up

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Reuters

The “traffic light” coalition has no intention of abandoning its current course, even though it is digging its own grave.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) delivered a policy statement in the Bundestag. In it, he listed the problems that have led to the end of his country’s «golden age» (Alles kaput!): the coronavirus, the Ukrainian conflict, and the energy crisis.

Scholz might have exaggerated with the «golden age», but thanks to his predecessors, Germany indeed had several «fat» decades. This included the reunification of Germany under Helmut Kohl (CDU), the development of energy projects with Russia under Gerhard Schröder (SPD), and 16 years of political stability and sustained economic growth under Angela Merkel (CDU). Scholz’s cabinet, however, has been balancing on the brink of recession: GDP growth last year and early this year was close to zero and even slightly negative. The German Chamber of Commerce and Industry predicts a 0.5% GDP contraction for 2024. This would be only the second time in post-war German history that its economy shrinks for two consecutive years.

With the rise of far-right and new left parties, growing protests from farmers, truck drivers, and train conductors, Germany, which was once a politically stable «locomotive of the EU», is now hearing louder calls for a so-called «Dexit» (analogous to Brexit, from the German-English term «Deutschland exit»). This would mean Germany exiting the European Union!

«There will be no return to the good old days, which for the most part weren’t that good», lamented Scholz, noting that Germans need a «political perspective».

However, what national perspective can his party offer when the Social Democrats recently scored a shocking 13.9% in the European Parliament elections — their worst result in decades?

Before heading to the Bundestag, Scholz, in a traditional summer interview with ARD television, blamed pro-Russian sentiments among some citizens for the ruling coalition’s low ratings. He believes that the stance of Bundesbürger who disagree with Germany’s support for Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia is reflected in the poll results.

From the parliamentary podium, the Chancellor sharply criticized deputies from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the left-wing Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance — For Reason and Justice (SWG), who boycotted Zelensky’s recent speech in the Bundestag.

«It was wrong, vile, and unworthy of this place that so many deputies <…> were not in the hall», he declared.

Recall that the head of the Kiev regime made his first live appearance in the German parliament on June 11. Local media were pleased to note that his speech was interrupted by applause more than 10 times, and after his address, lawmakers gave him a standing ovation. In reality, the performance was missed by all SWG deputies and most AfD representatives. In their statement, the left accused Zelensky of promoting an «extremely dangerous spiral of escalation» and said he «should not be honored». The far-right noted that they did not want to listen to a «camouflaged speaker whose term has already expired» in a civilized place.

Scholz, for his part, assured those gathered that his cabinet, despite falling ratings, would continue its chosen course on the Ukrainian track.

«The Russian president’s goal of conquering Ukraine on the battlefield is unattainable. <…> Anyone who believes this will result in lasting peace in Europe is obviously watching too much Russia Today», he proclaimed, commenting on Moscow’s recent peace proposal.

«Putin continues to bet on prolonging the war. And this becomes especially evident with his ostensible truce proposal. <…> It talks not about a ceasefire but about territories of Ukraine not yet occupied by Russian troops being handed over to Russia in violation of international law, about Ukraine being demilitarized, and about it rejecting any military assistance in the future», said the top politician.

The Chancellor also recalled the G7 summit in Italy (June 13–15), whose decisions he called «extremely important and forward-looking». For example, the agreement to provide Kiev with a $50 billion loan from frozen Russian assets in the West.

«The Russian president’s calculation that it would be impossible to provide Ukraine with the help it needs due to fiscal rules in European countries or the US has proved futile thanks to this G7 decision», Scholz believes.

Notably, deputies laughed at the head of the cabinet when he announced that he would insist on strict austerity measures while drafting the 2025 budget (preparations start in July), which is likely to have a «hole» of several dozen billion euros due to the inability to use funds from the «coronavirus fund». Meanwhile, the coalition government does not intend to abandon significant spending on aid to Ukraine.

…Scholz’s mention of the impossibility of returning to «the good old days» was in vain. This scenario clearly did not please the people’s representatives. They do not want to believe that the German «golden age» is irretrievably gone. There is still some chance to stop the stagnation… No later than October 26 next year (or earlier if the coalition «continues to misbehave»), the next Bundestag elections will take place, where Scholz’s political perspective and his line will become not just murky but final. There is not much longer to endure.