A tense atmosphere in the traffic light coalition – a change of power is still out of the question. Because CDU leader Friedrich Merz is struggling with three problems.

Think of the world of politics as a contemporary theater festival. If the ensemble delivers a weak performance on stage, the audience begins to leaf through the program booklet restlessly. Involuntarily one is interested in the next production. Curiosity about the new correlates with frustration with the present.

That’s how it was at the end of the social-liberal era. Tired of the SPD’s internal party quarrels, first the FDP and then the population began to befriend Helmut Kohl. The Palatinate with his “spiritual and moral turn” only became a new beacon of hope because the misery drama of the SPD staged on the open stage – Linke versus Schmidt, Schmidt versus Brandt – only promised a bad mood, but no attractiveness. The new came because the old came to an end.

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Which brings us to Friedrich Merz. The performance of the colorful traffic light troupe has clearly lost momentum and yet there is no rustling of the program in the audience. The mixture of joyful anticipation and professional curiosity that precedes the change of power does not materialize.

Above all, there are the following three reasons that should prevent the CDU party leader, who started out so ambitiously, from appearing on the big stage:

Friedrich Merz is a person who does not experience the opinion of those who think differently – including that of party members who think differently – as enriching, but rather as disloyal. That is why he is the eternal soloist of the Union. Enemy territory begins for him outside the family.

His relief ideas are at least as expensive as those of the traffic light coalition. His ecological statements are designed so streamlined that they should impress Ricarda Lang and Luisa Neubauer. His sudden plea for a quota for women is not convincing, but rather opportunistic. Here one has not learned. One fell over here. The former book author Friedrich Merz (“dare more capitalism”, Piper-Verlag, 2008) no longer dares to offer a market-based alternative to state intervention policies.

Today’s attitude is neither left nor right, but smothered. You can’t shake the feeling that Merz doesn’t dare to be Merz.

Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.