Germany: Chancellor Scholz’s cool demeanor hides deep coalition troubles

Despite a mixed record, the coalition will likely hold

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Mandiner
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during his annual summer press conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday, July 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Halfway through its mandate, Germany’s traffic light coalition is beset with both internal strife and the fast rise of the opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD), and Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s outwardly cool facade can only do so much to mask the problems, Hungarian news and opinion portal Mandiner writes.

Opinion polls show that voters are not very satisfied with the policies of the three parties.

Three-quarters of German citizens are not at all or only slightly satisfied with the work of the federal government, and it seems that if the elections were held now, the three parties would no longer be able to win a majority.

Scholz’s party, the Social Democrats (SPD), is only third in terms of popularity behind the conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the rapidly rising AfD. The Greens are at a five-year low, and the smallest party in government, the liberal FDP, has lost a third of its supporters since last year’s elections.

According to Péter Dobrowiecki, head of research at the Hungarian-German Institute, “up until the outbreak of the war, the coalition government had been working quite well, but the conflict in Ukraine has brought out the differences between the three governing parties.”

The reality is that the three parties represent quite different political orientations.

“Looking back over the past two years, we can say that at the end of 2021, they had an ambitious goal – with serious economic, social and structural plans. In 2022, they responded quite well to the crisis, and then as the war progressed, they found themselves in an increasingly difficult political situation. Now, they are effectively governing in a state of emergency,” the expert said.

He added that this year has been much more about intra-coalition disputes, and in many cases, the ruling parties have not responded well to the crisis situation.

While Scholz chose a calm, confident, contemplative stance, arguing that in the long run the government’s decisions would be vindicated, the other governing parties tried to respond to people’s discontent by pushing their own agenda even further to the fore and trying to create a more distinctive political image. Of course, this is not the best tactic for cooperation.

But Scholz’s watchful attitude could pay off in the future, the expert says, because neither of the three coalition parties has any incentive to abandon ship.

“With all three parties in a tailspin, it is in no one’s interest to break up the alliance,” says Dobrowiecki. However, he added that with the Greens and the FDP constantly at each other’s throats, it is clear that Scholz has a difficult road ahead.

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