In Germany, the coalition of Olaf Scholz undermined by tensions

In Germany, the coalition of Olaf Scholz undermined by tensions
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz surrounded by Finance and Economy Ministers Christian Lindner (left) and Robert Habeck at Meseberg Castle in Gransee (Germany) on August 31, 2022.

Smiles and exchanges of pleasantries in the absence of concrete announcements. On Wednesday August 31, the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and his two main ministers, Robert Habeck (economy) and Christian Lindner (finance), spared no effort to make people forget the tensions that have shaken the coalition they have led since almost nine months. But, by refusing to say precisely how they intend to fight against soaring prices, they have in spite of themselves vindicated those who see in their difficulty in arbitrating the proof of their inability to agree.

For three quarters of an hour, the three strong men of the German coalition did everything to deceive them. Against the backdrop of the white facade of the Meseberg castle, near Berlin, it was side by side and without ties that they presented themselves to the press to conclude the government seminar which was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, in this operetta setting.

To extinguish the fire

Of the three, Mr. Habeck was the most demonstrative. “This seminar has once again shown how good it is that Olaf Scholz leads this government with his experience, his sobriety and his calm”assured the former boss of the Greens, obviously anxious to extinguish the fire caused by a tweet of the vice-president of the environmental group of the Bundestag, Konstantin von Notz, who had quipped on Monday about “the poor performance of the chancellor” social democrat (SPD), its “bad polls” and his ” blackouts “ in the “CumEx Files” tax evasion scandal.

Mr Scholz, for his part, repeated at the end of the seminar what he had said at the beginning, namely that “the government works in a very friendly and very constructive atmosphere”. As for Mr. Lindner, it was with a burst of laughter that he replied to a journalist who asked him if, as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP), he was not taking advantage of the recent “Chicayas” between the SPD and the Greens. That there are sometimes “public discussion” is ” inevitable “but the coalition is still working “in a collegial spirit”he assured.

Also read (an archive from 2021): Article reserved for our subscribers In Germany, Olaf Scholz presents a coalition agreement under the sign of “progress”

In recent days, it is indeed between ecologists and social democrats that the tone has risen. At the heart of the discord: the gas tax announced on August 15 by Mr. Habeck. In the amount of 2.4 centimes per kilowatt-hour consumed from the 1er October, the purpose of this is to help gas importers obtain supplies despite the rise in fuel prices, and thus to protect them from bankruptcy. Fighted by the opposition, the device is also highly criticized by the SPD, which criticizes the Minister of the Economy for the unfairness of his tax, which even the most modest households will have to pay, but which will benefit all distributors. of gas, including to those who are not in difficulty. “Robert Habeck may have an interesting way of communicating, but in politics it’s not just words that count, you also need substance”SPD Chairman Lars Klingbeil said on Sunday, denouncing a tax that was not “neither done nor to be done”.

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