Merkel's summer press conference
Soon there will be important elections in the East – for the CDU is much at stake. But the Chancellor remains calm. First, there's a holiday.
BERLIN taz | The Chancellor wears bright red. This Friday she came to the traditional question and answer session at the Federal Press Conference – the room with the blue wall is fully occupied, the atmosphere a bit like on the last day of school before the big holidays. And indeed, this appointment of the Chancellor is comparable to the capital press. In the past few weeks politically, a few really fat exams have been taken. Conferences have taken place, one-to-one interviews have taken place, and in the end there have been balance sheets and personnel decisions. Angela Merkel, that much is certain when looking into her tired eyes, has earned her vacation.
Especially the last week had it in itself. In Brussels, Merkel's spokeswoman Ursula von der Leyen fought for the office of EU Commission President and – with the help of the German head of government – won. In Berlin, Merkel's candidate for the Chancellery has replaced the Federal Minister of Defense. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is now not only “100 percent party leader”, but also Minister – which does not like all in the CDU.
But all of this was just a blip in terms of what awaits the head of government and her cabinet after the session-free time. On 20 September, the Climate Cabinet should decide whether there should be a pricing of carbon dioxide emissions. The Bundestag should decide on the partial abolition of the solidarity surcharge and tackle a bureaucracy relief law. In between, state elections are held in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia – it is expected with gains of the AfD, the CDU could smear.
And then there's the SPD, which is known to be looking for just one or two new chairpersons. It is quite possible that candidates who are not promising to leave the coalition are immediately out of the race. In other words, everything that Angela Merkel promises on this July day in Berlin could soon be irrelevant – due to the lack of government partners.
Zack, Armageddon would be forgotten
So everything would be done for Endzeitstimmung before the last big holidays before the end of the world. But, as we all know, Merkel has never been hit by crises, at least not in a way that makes it visible to outsiders. If at any time a huge asteroid falls to earth, the Chancellor would be the most pleasant company for the last few hours – that's the impression the 65-year-old leaves on this morning. Maybe she would read the TV program, the bus timetable or the weather report. Zack, Armageddon would be forgotten.
At the weekend, the first moon landing for the 50th time. What has happened since then, what's next? 10 theses about our nearest neighbor in space – in the taz on the weekend of 20./21. July. In addition: Only the watermelon kisses the food left and right cheeks. A declaration of love. And why we should often allow ourselves to hang out at home – even when the sun is shining. From Saturday at the kiosk, in the eKiosk, in the practical weekend subscription and around the clock on Facebook and Twitter,
When the press conference lasts an hour, a journalist addresses the situation of the SPD – and their longing to soon blow up the coalition. Would not Merkel be able to keep the Social Democrats at bay? “We have a coalition agreement and that remains the basis,” the Chancellor replies. There are projects in there and you put through. Incidentally, after the resignation of Andrea Nahles, the SPD is doing very well. The interim board was very reliable, one could very well continue the government work. And that SPD politicians accuse the CDU word break, because Kramp-Karrenbauer enters the cabinet, although she had first excluded that? “You know, there is so much talk.” Asteroid? Pff, which asteroid?
At the end of this week, it looks as if Merkel would have succeeded with the personnel changes in Brussels and Berlin a success. Her current successor, Kramp-Karrenbauer, was heaved into a good starting position: The Saarlander has a maximum of two years to distinguish herself as a minister and to recommend her to the Chancellery.
The reality could deviate very quickly from this idea. In the Ministry of Defense all sorts of problems waiting for Kramp-Karrenbauer: After the summer break are budget negotiations in the Bundestag. According to previous plans, the military budget will be less severe than last – Union and the Bundeswehr could directly blame the Minister as a defeat. The army's procurement system is still in trouble. And even the breakdown ship “Gorch Fock” has left the Leyen to her successor. By the way, Kramp-Karrenbauer, as CDU leader, has to take care of the state elections in the East – and afterwards the defeats may be nice. Pretty much for one person.
“One was diligent in the GDR”
But even that does not bring Merkel today from the rest. “I believe that a public office can very well be associated with chairing a party,” she says. The double burden will endure Kramp-Karrenbauer. Next question.
Only a few hundred meters from the house of the Federal Press Conference speaks at the same time Greta Thunberg. The Swedish climate activist has come to Berlin to speak to 2,000 supporters at Friday for Future. The 16-year-old criticizes decision-makers like the German Chancellor: they would not live up to their responsibility in the fight against the climate crisis. Merkel, in turn, addresses the protests. Greta and Co. would have “certainly accelerated the federal government,” she says. Every decision must be considered and tapped first. “There is nobody in the federal government who questions the climate goals.”
The press conference lasts one and a half hours. Thematically it goes across the vegetable garden. Tax Policy and Sea Rescue, the Dublin Agreement, Health Policy (“He is making a lot of money”, Merkel says of Minister Jens Spahn), Italy's government crisis and Iran, transport policy and arms exports.
For her conditions in motion Merkel comes to the topic of East Germany, which she persistently calls “new countries”. The people of the GDR have developed techniques for life that are no longer needed today. “Quickly see if there are tempo handkerchiefs and then access – or tomato paste hamsters” – younger or foreign listeners should have understood only station, as Merkel told of shortage and stock culture. “And that worries you sometimes, of course,” she says. “We were, yes, one was diligent in the GDR.” Many people who may have become unemployed after the turn, wondered what they could contribute to society. “And you can not just make up for that with a stroke of the pen.”
Finally, at the very end, the chancellor is still driving a diplomatic broadside against Donald Trump. When asked if she stood by the side of the US Congress racially attacked Congressman, she said, “Yes. Yes, I strongly disassociate myself from this and feel solidarity with the three women attacked. “Donald Trump, who had actually advised four non-White MPs to go back to” where they come from, “is unlikely to be pleased. It will probably be this “yes” that remains from the 2019 Summer Press Conference.
Whether Angela Merkel masters the challenges of the coming months, you will see. It does not give the impression of being fed up with politics. But – the duty to add – this feeling you have almost every year after the summer press conference.
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