Germany prepares for elections to the Bundestag. Angela Merkel, who ruled for sixteen years, will retire as promised. But the party members were mired in corruption scandals, and the main contender for successor, on whom Frau Chancellor was betting, was let down by a sense of humor. The “boring bureaucrat” Olaf Scholz became the leader, although not long ago it seemed that the first at the finish line would be the “queen of the talk show” Annalena Berbock.
Discreet robot charm
The worst result since the mid-80s – a month before the vote, the ruling CDU / CSU bloc lost to the Social Democrats. In third place is the Greens, followed by the liberals from the Free Democratic Party, and the ultra-right Alternative for Germany closes the top five. These results of a public opinion poll are provided by the Forsa Institute for Sociological Research.
And now Olaf Scholz has a good chance for the main government post – to the surprise of many. In general, the Social Democrats in Germany are going through hard times. The election program is incomprehensible, there is no own line – the junior partners of the Merkel bloc have actually merged with the conservatives. And the leader himself was always considered a boring bureaucrat. He was even nicknamed Scholzomat – with a hint of a robot. Which, however, did not prevent him from climbing the career ladder: the burgomaster of Hamburg, the head of the Ministry of Labor, and now the Minister of Finance and Vice-Chancellor.
Throughout the campaign, Scholz kept a low profile. Attention was drawn to it after catastrophic floods that killed more than 180 people. As Minister of Finance, he offered people real help, showed himself to be a good manager. And the Germans appreciated it. In addition, image makers have worked well with him lately. Usually laconic, he began to actively communicate on social networks, speaks in public without a piece of paper, and even took off his tie.
For Russia, Scholz in the Chancellor’s chair is not a bad option. The Social Democrats consider themselves to be followers of the “new Eastern policy” of the 1970s – the easing of tensions between the FRG and the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. Scholz himself, although he sharply criticized the annexation of Crimea and the situation around Alexei Navalny, would not want relations to deteriorate. He does not oppose Nord Stream 2 and, on the whole, is in favor of a dialogue with Moscow.
In the meantime, Scholz’s rivals were mired in scandals. Armin Laschet, the politician whom she would like to see as the successor of Angela Merkel, made a fatal mistake: he joked about something with his colleagues while German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke in front of TV cameras about the victims of the disaster. Compromising footage immediately scattered across the web. The misplaced gaiety cost the policy “with the charisma of a middle-level accountant” dearly, as the Germans themselves assess him.
The ruling bloc has not been in the best shape lately. The methods of the authorities in the fight against the pandemic did not meet with understanding, the strict quarantine regime, which lasted more than six months, irritated even very law-abiding citizens. A black smear has added a corruption scandal to the overall picture. The media learned that MP Nicholas Lebel earned about 250 thousand euros from a commission for the purchase of medical masks from China. The deputy Georg Nusslein, who received over 750 thousand, also profited from kickbacks.
Unpleasant details were also revealed about Laschet himself: the government of the North Rhine-Westpha-lia headed by him signed a contract with a mask manufacturer, for which the politician’s son works.
By the way, Lashet is considered the most moderate critic of Moscow. He actively supports Nord Str-eam 2 and always emphasizes that many international problems cannot be solved without Russia.
This is not the first zigzag of the election campaign. Even three months ago, many were convinced that Merkel would replace the leader of the Greens, Annalena Berbock. She joined the party 16 years ago and immediately gained popularity. Often flashed on television – she was even called “the queen of talk shows.” She harshly criticized Russia, called for the winding down of Nord Stream 2 and abandoning coal energy as soon as possible.
She had brilliant electoral prospects, but Berbock managed to make mistakes. At first, the candidate’s reputation was damaged by the unpopular decisions of the party: the Greens promised to cancel short flights around the country, as well as to increase the cost of gasoline. Then it turned out that Berbock had not declared 25 thousand euros, a bonus from her own party – Christmas bonuses and compensation for the pandemic. Voters were outraged: doctors need such payments, not party officials.
In addition, they found inaccuracies in Annalena’s resume on the party website. She attributed to herself participation in some international organizations – for example, the Agency for Refugees, where, in principle, membership is not provided. It’s no big deal, but the Germans took it very seriously. “It was shitty,” admitted Barbock. And the voters agreed with her in this, the Greens are losing their rating.
When scandals hurt politicians
Another potential successor to Merkel, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, was also knocked out of the race by a scandal. In February last year, she had to resign from her position as leader of the CDU and abandon the struggle for the Chancellor’s chair because of the party’s alliance with the “handshake” far-right “Alternative for Germany” in the elections in Thuringia.
Another long-time protégé of Merkel, President Christian Wulff, stepped out of the race when media reported that he had spent € 500,000 to build a house. And he borrowed not from the bank, as it should be for a high-ranking official, but from the wife of a friend – businessman Egon Gerkens.
To pay off, Wolfe took out a loan, but at a suspiciously low rate. And he tried to cover up his tracks, he threatened the editor-in-chief of one of the media outlets that published this story. In addition, film producer David Greenevold once paid for Wolfe’s vacation at a luxury hotel. The politician thanked through Siemens, asking to finance one of Grenewold’s projects.
Applicants for the top post in Germany generally suffered from scandals. One of them, Franz Josef Strauss, even tried to take revenge on journalists. In the 1980s, he was unable to become chancellor due to a history that took place in the distant 1960s. An end to his career was the publication Der Spiegel, titled “C-onditionally Defendable,” about a NATO military exercise that practiced a possible attack by the Soviet Union. The rehearsal of the third world war showed: the Bundeswehr is in a deplorable state. Strauss was then Minister of Defense, and journalists caught him in large bribes from construction companies.
After the bold publication, the editorial office of Der Spiegel and the houses of the journalists were searched, and the authors tried to accuse the authors of divulging classified information and treason. Strauss insisted that they should be arrested. Everything ended well for the press, but not very well for the CDU / CSU. Under Strauss’ leadership, the party suffered its worst defeat since 1949. But she nevertheless learned the lessons from this sad experience and that is why now she is so scrupulous about candidates for leadership.