The Chancellor’s political style: Hesitation and procrastination were yesterday


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Status: 06/22/2022 7:00 p.m

Yes, the chancellor could have made some decisions more quickly and communicated more clearly in recent months, says Martin Ganslmeier. But in these uncertain times of war, a cautiously weighing head of government is better.

A comment by Martin Ganslmeier, ARD capital studio

In recent months, Olaf Scholz has often been criticized: by the opposition, from traffic light ranks and the media. He had stuck to Nord Stream 2 for too long, he had traveled to Kyiv too late and he had kept Ukraine waiting for heavy weapons for too long.

Perhaps the most important week of his term of office to date has now begun: first the meeting with the EU heads of state and government in Brussels, then hosting the G7 summit in Elmau and finally the NATO summit in Madrid. Major decisions are ahead. And Scholz made it clear in his government statement that he wants to play a leading role in this. Hesitation and procrastination were yesterday. Scholz wants to get out of the defensive.

Is Scholz reaping the fruits of his preparatory work?

If the three summits decide what Scholz announced in his government statement, then the lengthy preparations would have been worth it. In the best-case scenario, Scholz can reap the fruits of his preparatory work: a clear EU perspective for Ukraine, a NATO that hasn’t been so closed for a long time and gains two strong new members in Sweden and Finland. And a G7 alliance that did not allow itself to be split under the German presidency, but continued the course of tough sanctions against Russia. According to Scholz, the message must come from all three summit meetings: the world’s democracies stand united against Putin’s imperialism.

Germany does more

If this were to happen, it would certainly not be the chancellor’s credit alone. But the well-prepared trips – to the Balkans and then to Kyiv together with Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi – paved the way for this. The same applies to the 100 billion special assets for the Bundeswehr and the close coordination with the allies. Rarely has the relationship between a US government and the federal government been as good as it has recently been.

The debate following the Chancellor’s government statement was less heated this time. Scholz took the wind out of his critics’ sails in good time: the long-awaited self-propelled howitzers have finally arrived in the Ukraine. And a list of German arms deliveries published online shows that Germany is doing more than critics feared.

Methodical and meticulous preparation

Nevertheless, CDU leader Friedrich Merz is right when he urges the Chancellor to make further efforts. Above all, Ukraine needs more heavy weapons. But as head of the opposition, Merz has it easier than a chancellor, who always has to be careful that Germany and NATO do not become active warring parties.

Yes, Scholz is anything but impulsive and charismatic. And yes, some things should have been decided more quickly and communicated more clearly. But Scholz methodically and meticulously prepares important decisions. In uncertain times of war, a carefully considered leader is better than a charismatic pusher and pusher.

Editorial note

Comments always reflect the opinion of the respective author and not that of the editors.

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