If Armin Laschet (60) is nervous, he can hide it pretty well that evening. At the first big TV exchange of blows, the immensely under pressure chancellor candidate of the Union speaks determinedly and mostly calmly on Sunday evening at RTL and ntv, relies on attack, refrains from annoyed reactions and new mistakes. It’s all or nothing for him: if he messes up the first TV triad four weeks before the federal election, the prospect of defending the Chancellery after 16 years of Angela Merkel (67) should drop to zero. So disastrous are the polls of the Union, so catastrophic are the popularity ratings of the candidate.
Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (63), who with his SPD is well ahead of the Union von Laschet in the polls, is sticking to the successful course of the past few weeks: He statesmanlike himself as a possible successor to the still extremely popular CDU Chancellor. When Laschet and Annalena Baerbock (40) get caught up in the discussion, he often leans back quite relaxed.
Baerbock relies on attacks against both sides, right from the start. She is cheerful after she often came across as cautious after her screwed up campaign start. It seems aggressive and demands a fundamental renewal. Of course, because she is in the opposition, Laschet and Scholz belong to the parties that currently form the government. Baerbock and her Greens had slipped behind Scholz and the SPD in the past few weeks, now she has to make up ground – in order to achieve a strong Green result at all, even if the Chancellery should not work.
Hardly any personal attacks
Right at the beginning it becomes clear how the roles are distributed on this evening. «The years of waiting for the grand coalition of SPD and CDU have not done this country any good. We now need a real departure, ”says Baerbock.
When the moderators wanted to know from Scholz why Laschet couldn’t be Chancellor, the current Vice Chancellor replied: “I think that this is not the style that we should cultivate in Germany, that we say what they say about the others can not. We should promote what is important to us. ” And Laschet also says that he would “also like to adhere to the fact that I advertise what I stand for”. He ruled a large country with all the contrasts that exist in all of Germany.
The two hours of Triell are tough in terms of content, but largely without personal attacks. When it comes to Afghanistan, Scholz and Laschet are more on the defensive towards Baerbock than representatives of the governing coalition. The Green holds the representatives of the government parties to ducking away, describes the pictures of frightened people who crowd into evacuation planes: “This is where my heart contracts.”
Afghanistan and Virus
Laschet takes a lot of time to spread his plans for a National Security Council. Scholz and his SPD prevent the use of drones to protect the Bundeswehr, Baerbock abstained from the last Afghanistan mandate, the CDU chief rages. “Stick with the facts,” says Scholz. Baerbock is annoyed that Laschet shouldn’t just read out his speech slip, if you please.
When it comes to Corona, the bandages are also hard. The Vice Chancellor pretends to be a warner, Laschet also says you have to be careful, but: “We will have to live with the virus.” When the NRW Prime Minister was told a zigzag course in corona policy, he reacted a little annoyed: For him, it was always a matter of weighing up protection against the virus and the other consequences. “Some malicious people” would have called it a zigzag course. When Baerbock put his finger in the wound with the air filters that are still often missing in schools, it could have scored points with many families.
There is even more sharpness when it comes to the topic of climate and the moderators want to know what the candidates as Chancellor wanted to ban first. «Nothing at all,» said Laschet, and holds against Baerbock that the only concept they have is the ban on the internal combustion engine. Laschet probably didn’t really listen, replies Baerbock quick-witted. Scholz does not want to ban anything either, but holds Laschet against the CDU-led Ministry of Economics and the Union refusing to raise the climate targets anyway. It becomes clear: the Greens and the SPD are likely to be closer on this issue than the Union and the Greens.
Taxes, women’s politics, gender language – the audience did not learn much that was new on this evening. When it comes to gender, Laschet says that one should “leave the cups in the cupboard”, but be sensitive to people who touch it. But if in the end you no longer know what to say and what not to say, that does not lead to increasing trust in the state.
Laschet tries to drive Scholz into a corner when it comes to the Left Party and the question of whether the SPD would form a coalition with it. Scholz stuck to his line: he does not exclude anything, but a commitment to NATO, that must be in every coalition agreement “and also meant from the bottom of my heart”.
When the three candidates are supposed to say something nice about the other almost at the end, things get interesting again, especially against the background of possible coalitions after the election on September 26th. Scholz calls Baerbock a “very committed politician”, something that was also seen at Triell. We have worked well together for a long time and often, “and I hope we will find a way to do the same in the future”. Baerbock says of Laschet that she likes “that you can argue hard on the matter and still, that Rhineland cheerful nature, something down-to-earth” – that is what politics is all about.
When Laschet is asked to say something nice about Scholz, the CDU man has to think for a long time. “He has been with us for a long time, has a lot of experience and has done a decent job under the leadership of Angela Merkel.” It is quite possible that Laschet wanted to disenchant Scholz’s tactics of selling himself as the personified continuation of Merkel’s politics.
According to a first Forsa survey for RTL and ntv immediately afterwards, the recipe did not work – according to this quick survey, at least 36 percent of viewers consider Scholz the winner of the TV debate, 30 percent Baerbock and only 25 percent Laschet. But there are still four weeks until the election. (SDA)