War in the Ukraine, energy crisis, inflation, acts of sabotage: the crisis of chaos into which Putin’s illegal war of aggression has plunged the world calls for tough leadership. But the German Chancellor Scholz (SPD) takes cover. Even former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) scoffs.
The day before last, Angela Merkel quoted her predecessor Helmut Kohl at an event in the French Cathedral – and probably meant her successor: “We must be much more willing to take on the leadership role that has now fallen to us.”
Speaking of leadership: where is Olaf Scholz?
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In these crisis days of all things the head of government seems to have disappeared. He’s the man behind the blinds. Things are going haywire in the ministries because veritable ministers from the Liberals and Greens are engaged in a party-political firefight. Their respective experts are in the trenches, the ministers control events from the party politics bunker.
Here is the chronology of a German confusion:
• Within a few days, there will be a switch from a gas levy, which should take around 34 billion euros from gas customers, to a gas price brake, which is now supposed to organize the flow of money in exactly the opposite direction. The whole spectacle remains politics that people don’t understand.
• According to the plan, the nuclear power plants were to be shut down yesterday and are now being extended. Why was it so long? What is the reason for the new situation? The citizen has to figure it out himself, because energy policy hasn’t rhymed for a long time.
• The economic situation is more than just precarious in view of an energy price development that has never happened before. Millions of livelihoods are hanging by a thread in a global energy war in which prices and now gas pipes in the Baltic Sea are exploding. The government looks on as these existences, which were well off yesterday and have now become questionable, are struggling, gasping for air and in many places are already falling silent.
• As if in mental confusion, politics is sending signals of relaxation and panic at the same time. Some say “we’ll get through the winter okay”, others shout “the hut is on fire”. Both at the same time cannot be correct. Serious information and disinformation suddenly look confusingly similar.
• The gas storage facilities are full and the country’s largest gas trader, Uniper, is effectively bankrupt. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle with a piece missing.
• The local population learned from Danish news agencies about what was probably the largest act of sabotage of the post-war period off the coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Anyone who is not shocked by this news has watched too many spy films.
• The public debt is skyrocketing and will continue to skyrocket even if only half of the relief packages now called for are dispatched. The ministers are not looking for potential savings. They are looking for cover names for further debt policy. Separate property sounds good, even if everyone knows that this property consists of a large promissory note.
• In this historically unique situation, where no one can know what challenge awaits Germany at the next street corner, leadership is required. Namely, central leadership. Many companies are now forming what the federal government lacks: a central crisis management team that does not have to ask the departments politely, but is allowed to dominate and overrule them.
• Energy policy is now economic, social and financial policy at the same time. The crisis does not adhere to departmental responsibility.
• The tugging with the federal states seems routine given the dimension of the challenge, but in this case routinely out of place. Even during the corona crisis, leadership through federalism did not work.
• Anyone who rules out further acts of sabotage has not understood what the hour has come. What is certain is that the global energy war and the military conflict in Europe are being waged against us from one and the same command center in Moscow. Ukraine is a scene, but no longer the only one. Putin also wants to bring us to our knees.
• The Federal Chancellor must play a key role in this situation, especially since all German information and activities must be coordinated with Brussels, with Washington and also with NATO.
Conclusion: On the eve of a fateful winter for Europe with energy shortages, a wave of bankruptcies and a global economic crisis there is not only a longing for leadership. There is a duty to lead. Or to put it more clearly: a decision will be made this winter about the re-election or deselection of Olaf Scholz. His hour is now.