The Union is staggering in the crisis: That's not how you become the A-Team

The Union is tumbling in crisis
That's not how you become the A-Team

From Frauke Niemeyer

In the fight against the pandemic, the Union wants to become the A-Team. And it doesn't look too bad – at first. But then there is failure after failure. Showdown for the third wave.

The Union is back in its twenties, how did that happen? The CDU / CSU lands on 29 percent approval this week. Eleven percentage points below the value that carried them through the summer of 2020. In those days, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Corona cabinet act as the executive command in a completely new type of crisis. Many Germans, also outside of their electorate, can convince them.

It becomes clear in those days that floods are not the only way to secure power in governing parties. You can get people in rubber boots – some from Helmut Schmidt to Gerhard Schröder have benefited from such dynamism. For the CDU / CSU it looks for weeks as if the corona pandemic could become their legendary disaster control operation.

With Merkel's "It's serious, take it seriously" – exactly a year ago to the day – the Union received such a boost of confidence from the electorate that the meager 26 percent in February 2020 almost jumped upwards: within of four weeks, the CDU and CSU make up eleven percentage points in the polls, but 37 is only the second base camp for the ascent up to 40 percent approval. When Germany was still amazed at how the virus brought it to its knees, the Union seemed almost invulnerable.

But subliminally, the incidence of new infections is already rising again, and the pathogen is spreading again. The comeback is made easy for him. Because the federal government – under the responsibility of the CSU Minister Horst Seehofer – has failed to develop a concept to check people returning from travel for infections. Party vacationers in particular bring the corona virus back to Germany. The second wave is picking up speed from now on and is taking the rulers on a rolling course on which they continue to stumble. An A-team moves differently.

  • No school concept – With the start of the new school year it becomes apparent that CDU Education Minister Anja Karliczek has failed to give the federal states a model of how children and young people can be taught safely and in person. What teachers and parents' associations have worked out together, seeps away unheard. To allay worry and anger, it is argued that schools and daycare centers are not pandemic drivers.
  • Measures from the hip – The federal chaos, which was already hinted at by the easing in early summer, really gets going in the autumn holidays: keyword "accommodation bans". 16 federal states are coming up with 16 concepts for this. Anyone who has booked Crete is fine; Coming to Heringsdorf turns out to be more difficult – always depending on the incidence value of the home region.
  • Lack of unity – Above all, Bavaria's CSU Prime Minister Markus Söder and North Rhine-Westphalia's CDU Prime Minister Armin Laschet repeatedly engage in strategy duels around the federal-state rounds of autumn. The federal and state governments are moving further and further away from the goal of finding and pursuing a clear common line in the fight against the virus.
  • Negligent commitments I – Despite the sharp increase in the number of infections, the Prime Minister's Conference (MPK) did not initially agree on tough protective measures in October. A so-called "breakwater lockdown" will not come into force until November. With open trade and face-to-face instruction, this partial lockdown should last four weeks, assures the federal government – without having any security whatsoever. It is said that one goal is to secure Christmas. The breakwater is becoming a complete lockdown, in which Germany is still largely to this day. Four weeks become five months.
  • No targeted research policy – In the course of the ongoing lockdown, opening scenarios are discussed again and again. However, Research Minister Karliczek has not commissioned any additional studies, for example to fundamentally research the course of the infection process and the structure of clusters. What is known about the risk of infection from supermarket purchases to bus trips – Germany is more likely to find out from abroad and from modeling by students at the Berlin Technical University who extrapolated infection values. The data collected by the health authorities are also not used strategically to analyze the ways in which the virus is spread.
  • Not enough vaccine – The start of the vaccinations, which could actually provide confidence shortly after the start of the hard lockdown, goes wrong. Suddenly it becomes apparent that Germany, together with the European Union, has ordered preparations far too hesitantly. What was long sold by Jens Spahn's Ministry of Health as a solution to the problem is now becoming a problem itself – the vaccination campaign.
  • Delayed help – Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier is drawing the ire of large parts of the economy because companies are still waiting for November aid in January. Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular feel that they are not given enough consideration. The payment and other applications drag on because software has to be redeveloped.
  • Hardly any negotiated strategy change – The MPK is changing course. While the seven-day incidence value of 50 was previously given as the central mark for easing and thus as a target, it is now: course to 35. But this new value only lasts for a few weeks. Then it is replaced with the incidence of 100. The country bosses no longer dare to approach the subject of "school openings". Too much argument so that in the end the first ones leave the resolutions while the press conference is still going on.
  • Two degrees – At the beginning of the year, Minister Spahn got into several troubles. The participation in a donation dinner party in autumn becomes known. It was not illegal, but is felt to be instinctless, while citizens were asked to limit contacts to the bare minimum.
  • Negligent commitments II – Spahn's announcement to start the big mass test campaign on March 1st is cashed in by the Chancellor because the minister has not agreed with the federal states. But these would have to implement the project. Nonetheless, the next MPK will present the non-existent mass tests as the central strategy to secure the first opening steps. In many places there is no testing yet, but it is opened.
  • Questionable contracts – It will be uncomfortable again for Jens Spahn, as his procedure for the quick procurement of medical masks comes under fire in the spring. The ministry wanted to attract as many providers as possible with a guaranteed fixed price. There are now several proceedings before the court. The government complains that deliveries are defective. Manufacturers complain that the federal government does not pay for flawless goods.
  • Suspicion of enrichment and tax evasion – The so-called mask affair starts with an office search of the Union parliamentary deputy Georg Nüsslein – at least two members of the CDU and CSU are said to have enriched themselves by arranging mask deals – by six-figure amounts. A so-called "declaration of honor" by all parliamentary group members is intended to curb the damage to trust.

With wrong decisions in such numbers, it seems downright astonishing that the slide of the Union only took place so visibly this week. But it is not said that it has already reached the valley. The crux of a disaster for the Executive Command is that it can emerge from the emergency with confidence and strength. Then the election success will not fail afterwards. But it can also turn out that the obstacles were too big. Or the goals and strategies are too small.

The third wave will very soon give the Corona cabinet the opportunity to measure itself against a challenge, the extent of which cannot really be assessed beforehand. Much will depend on how quickly, decisively, and possibly also how boldly politicians act. If Merkel and the Union ministers succeed in turning the tide again, the confidence of the voters could return. With the advantage that afterwards the decisive elections are actually soon to be held.

. (tagsToTranslate) Politics (t) CDU (t) CSU (t) Corona crisis (t) Lockdown (t) Protective masks (t) School (t) Corona vaccine