AGI – The collapse suffered by Cdu / Csu in legislative elections in Germany casts a sad shadow on the farewell to politics of Angela Merkel. The last months of the Chancellor’s fourth term were marked by road accidents who helped lead his party towards what is looming as the worst result ever.
In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic Berlin had been taken as an example as a model for managing the health emergency even by Eurosceptic British newspapers such as the ‘Telegraph’. A year later the picture had turned upside down. Last March the vaccination campaign it was going at a very slow pace, with just 2% of the population immunized in a month, a percentage that Israel reached in a day.
“Germany isn’t that special after all”
The damage to image it was well summarized by a poisonous editorial in ‘El Pais’, according to which “the repeated errors of the German government have eradicated any prejudice on Germanic competence and superiority”. “Germany is not that special after all”, added the Spanish newspaper with a touch of ‘schadenfreude’, “the difference between perception and reality is only greater.”
The complex German regulatory architecture showed all its limits in an emergency situation. Merkel’s proverbial tendency to procrastinate if backfired. The delays in the application of restrictions and precautionary measures such as the obligation to wear a mask helped to trace the infections and grueling tug-of-war with the Lander they played a notable role in imposing an insufficient pace of decision-making. In the background, the ‘no vax’ protest of the ‘Querdenkers’, the “lateral thinkers” whose tumultuous protests had become a weekly appointment in Berlin.
The locomotive of Europe brakes
The errors in the fight against Covid are partly linked to slowdown in the economy. A few days ago the Ifo institute lowered its growth forecast for 2021 from 3.3% to 2.5%. The unemployment rate is expected to fall from 5.6% to 5.1% but economic inequalities continue to grow and, if the service sector appears to be in a decisive recovery, the manufacturing industry, the heart of the Teutonic economy, is in the grip of bottlenecks (primarily the scarcity of chips and other intermediate goods) which will begin to weigh soon: in 2023 the GDP is expected by the Ifo to grow by just 1.5% after the 5.1% rebound expected for 2022.
If the German locomotive loses momentum it is also due to the policy of “schwarze null”, of zero deficit, carried out by the CDU, which has not allowed the investments in infrastructures, from high speed to broadband, which Germany so needs. . What it means to hold the purse strings so tight became clear with the devastating floods last July, when the communications lines went haywire, complicating relief efforts. A tragedy where one of the many gaffes that have crippled was consummated Armin Laschet, the candidate chancellor of the CDU / Csu, caught laughing and joking during a memorial ceremony for the victims.
A weak and not very charismatic candidate
Laschet’s mistake in the voting booth, with the ballot folded so as to reveal the vote, sealed a weak and unconvincing electoral campaign, which forced Merkel to take the field to support a candidate who was losing ground to his favor every day. of a much more energetic Scholz. The governor of the North-Rhine Westphalia, Land brought to its knees by the floods, had won it for its moderate profile, the closest to that of Merkel. But it’s simply not Merkel.
If it is true that the competitor Friedrich Merz, with a more right-wing profile, would have made an understanding with the Greens very complicated, Laschet, gray and not very charismatic, was a makeshift after Merkel had seen her second dolphin burned Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (the first, Ursula von der Leyen, ended up in Brussels) with the ugly mess of Thuringia, where the CDU flirted with Afd’s far right after the administrative. The young Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, had appeared for a time as a possible alternative but the errors in the management of the pandemic made it soon set the star.
The Bavarian reserve
Yet the conservatives had a perfect candidate: the popular head of the CSU, the Bavarian branch of the CDU, Markus Soeder, who a few months ago, however, called himself out of the race stating that he wanted to dedicate himself only to Bavaria. Soeder had probably understood that this was the worst possible time to attempt the rush to the chancellery and wisely stepped aside at the moment of the announced disaster.
The uncertain picture painted by the projections risks making the negotiations for the formation of the government very long, which in 2017 took 5 months. If there is still no new chancellor in Berlin by 18 December, Merkel will snatch away Helmut Kohl the record for driving in Germany. But it is not a record that ‘Mutti’ is pleased to celebrate.