“They always choke me”

ERarely have I been so happy about a negative result, wrote Schleswig-Holstein Prime Minister Daniel Günther on Facebook about his corona test on Wednesday. He was “really up for the final sprint to the election campaign”. The CDU politician tested positive for the corona virus on April 25 and has been in domestic isolation since then. He was able to end it now – a few days before the state elections this Sunday – just in time for the NDR’s top candidate triel in the Landeshaus in Kiel.

The discussion was originally supposed to take place on April 26, but Günther canceled after his corona infection. And even with the catch-up date, it was unclear until the very end whether the 48-year-old CDU politician would be able to attend in person.

“It’s nice that you all tested negative today, but are in a positive mood,” said moderator and NDR editor-in-chief Andreas Cichowicz at the beginning of the program. He had previously left unmentioned which of the three participants – alongside Günther, the top candidates from the SPD and the Greens, Thomas Losse-Müller and Monika Heinold – had contracted Covid-19 on the original broadcast date, which, given the fact that Günther’s illness was anything but a secret was, something seemed strange.

This forced, relaxed greeting set the tone for a tense show with some candidates who seemed tense. The consequences of the war in Ukraine were just as much a topic as Schleswig-Holstein’s problems with infrastructure and transport, the energy transition and the digitization of schools.

Again and again reference is made to the speaking time

But no matter what the topic was, the moderators abruptly ended speeches again and again by pointing out that this or that topic, the rental price brake or daycare fees, for example, would only be an issue later in the program. That not only threw the frontrunners out of the water, it also made it harder for viewers to follow the politicians’ arguments.

Again and again the moderators – Cichowicz was supported by Julia Stein – almost compulsively referred to the speaking time. At some point it became too much for the Green politician Heinold. “You always choke me and then you’re like, ‘She always talks so short,'” she complained.

Günther, on the other hand, managed to incorporate the references to speaking times into his argument. After being pointed out by the moderators that he was too big a part of the conversation, he countered the probing about possible coalition options away from Jamaica with a smile and the sentence that he would not answer it again now. Because “then my speaking time will go up again”.

Günther has ruled in Kiel with the FDP and the Greens since 2017. And so far he has repeatedly emphasized that he would like to continue doing so. This was also the case this evening: Jamaica was good for the country and he was “firmly convinced that Schleswig-Holstein will also be good for the next few days”.

But if the polls for the CDU are not deceptive – they are between 36 and 38 percent – one partner could be enough after the election to form a government, the FDP or the Greens. However, Günther did not want to choose a favorite partner on NDR that evening. “We have worked successfully with the three parties, I don’t want to miss anyone,” he said. In fact, the Jamaican partners can point to high levels of approval: according to a recent survey for NDR, 75 percent of Schleswig-Holsteiners are satisfied with the government’s work.

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