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Opinion from Hugo Müller-Vogg: Scholz misses an important opportunity in his New Year’s address

Olaf Scholz’s message at this year’s changeover can be summarized as follows: The situation is serious, but everything will be fine. Oh, and of course, respect couldn’t be left out. Just typical for Scholz.

Anything else would have been a surprise. What the Chancellor lacks is what the country needs right now: the ability to not only talk about confidence, but also to provide reasons for a realistic optimism. From this perspective, this New Year’s address was at least honest – as uninspiring as the traffic light coalition’s politics.

It is understandable that the Chancellor points out the adverse conditions under which the SPD, Greens and FDP had to and must govern. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, with all its economic and political consequences, would have made life difficult for any other government as well.

Watch the New Year’s address from Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the video

The Chancellor can’t just “Scholz” away one point

However, the widespread discontent in the country is primarily the result of red-green-yellow policies. The chaos around the heating law was homemade, as was the far too long and reckless abandonment of border controls.

Scholz credits himself with the European asylum compromise as a success, even though it is still uncertain how the new agreements will impact.

One thing is certain, though: better securing of the EU’s external borders will not change the integration problems, which were denied by the government parties for years and then criminally underestimated as a result of uncontrolled immigration. So it was no coincidence that Scholz didn’t even mention this issue that concerns people.

The fact that this government is in serious financial trouble is something even the Chancellor can’t just “Scholz” away. The audacity with which he simply attributed it to the “far-reaching judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court” was quite remarkable.

No apology is offered

Just a reminder: It was Scholz himself who in the 2021 coalition negotiations invented the unconstitutional reallocation of credit authorizations that were not needed during the pandemic for other purposes. Now blaming Karlsruhe for the consequences borders on impudence.

This New Year’s address would have been an opportunity to apologize to the citizens for the failed unconstitutional budget tricks. However, for someone like Scholz, who tends to be self-righteous, apologizing is out of the question.

The traffic light parties are doing so poorly in all the polls because they constantly present the image of a divided bunch. Hardly a decision of importance that is not accompanied by fierce, publicly conducted arguments.

There are politicians whose speeches are better than their policies – and vice versa

The Chancellor, a master at downplaying, briefly addressed this: He could “indeed have done without some loud debates in the past weeks and months.”

This is the talk of someone who observes the events from the sidelines, but does not decisively shape them. The citizen wonders why Scholz – formally the ringmaster – didn’t prevent these “loud debates” then?

A head of government does not necessarily have to be a brilliant speaker or an inspiring motivator. There are politicians whose speeches are better than their policies – and vice versa.

With Olaf Scholz, it’s different. With him, rhetoric and government action usually match – like in this New Year’s address.



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