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I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a good start into the New Year. Good intentions abound, so I'd rather start with a confession. I have to admit that it's not easy for me to go back to work right away. Before the quiet time between the years, it's always so beautiful to imagine: finally peace! Relax, read, drink tea. Unfortunately, the self-prescribed rest always goes by far too quickly. Zack is New Year's Eve, comes the New Year's hangover - and the first text message from the boss.
What makes matters worse in my case is that 2024 still feels like 2023. Why? I'll explain to you straight away. But first we at the Berlin stern office owe you an apology. Our esteemed office manager Fried wrote a nice Christmas newsletter - and then we were cheeky enough to send you the text again after the holidays. A technical error for which we would like to ask you, dear readers, to forgive you. Sorry! Shouldn't happen again.
So now to 2024. My good intention for this newsletter would be to keep it shorter. Too often I slip into pointed ramblings at this point. It doesn't have to be that way. I'm starting to run out of football comparisons too. So: What's important - and why does everything feel like it did two weeks ago?
Firstly, the CDU happily continues to play “Don’t get angry as a candidate for chancellor”. And because this little game promises good entertainment, my boss Veit Medick and I met CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann for an interview last year. What would he advise his party leader Merz? "Friedrich, you have to do this."
We thought that was a clear statement. However, we were surprised that Linnemann caused a lot of excitement with another wish: He would like it if Angela Merkel got involved for the CDU in the next federal election campaign. The right-wing to extreme right-wing bubble on social media didn't find that funny at all.
Secondly, the SPD wants to suspend the debt brake. Sure, why should that have changed over New Year's Eve? However, there is also a reason that the SPD chief budget officer is now bringing into play. “The full extent of the flood damage cannot yet be foreseen, but for exactly such cases we have the option of suspending the debt brake, which is in the Basic Law,” Dennis Rohde told my colleague Florian Schillat.
Thirdly, the FDP wants to make the liberal signature in the government more visible. This is the route that General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai issued after his party's membership survey on New Year's Day. A very narrow majority voted for the Liberals to remain in the traffic light government. That should actually be enough of an incentive to rethink things. Actually.
The metaphor of liberal handwriting, however, is more worn than my Lamy fountain pen in fourth grade. I have summarized here what really follows from the result and what questions the party leadership must now ask itself.
You've already noticed: a lot of ice-cold coffee at the start of the year.
Person of the week …is Petra Köpping. Do not you know? It's okay, if you don't live in Saxony or weren't interested in the bottom places in the big SPD chairman casting in 2019, you won't have heard much about the SPD politician so far. This year, however, Köpping could make history: as the top candidate who leads her party in Saxony under the five percent hurdle and out of the state parliament. Out of luck, comrade? Florian Schillat explains how it could come to this.
A turn of the year like this offers space for reflection. For example, I once again thought about whether it was really so smart to go into journalism straight after graduating. Or whether I shouldn't have done something sensible first: investment banking or management consulting. After all, life in the media industry is much easier with a well-filled fixed-term deposit account. And the shortage of skilled workers in journalism now makes it possible to get your dream job laterally even in your late 30s.
In this respect, Sahra Wagenknecht was smarter than me. She has earned a lot of money with her books - and is now fulfilling her dream of having her own party. But because it is always smart to find additional sources of money, Wagenknecht has brought Ralph Suikat, a millionaire, to their side. Who is the man? My colleague Miriam Hollstein portrayed him.
Katja Mast experienced what it was like to have to make do with far too little money during her childhood. The SPD woman speaks openly like few top politicians about hard times and her mother's achievements: "She would have deserved the Federal Cross of Merit."
Your highlight of the week...
...is our political hit parade forecast for 2024. Who should you watch out for now? We present ten politicians who will be important this year. Okay, strictly speaking there is also a political official there.
My highlight of the week…
...is a text by Nico Fried that I don't want to call a “highlight”. The occasion is too sad for that. Wolfgang Schäuble is dead. A man about whom you could write three obituaries if you wanted to adequately honor his achievements for this country - and perhaps some of his mistakes too.
What I particularly associate with Schäuble is the treaty on German unity that he negotiated. And which I read with fascination as a teenager. Colleague Fried observed Schäuble in the last third of his political career in Berlin. I would like to strongly recommend his very personally written obituary to you for a quiet moment.
The entire Berliner stern editorial team wishes you a successful and exciting year 2024. Stay with us. I continue to work on my good intentions. Next time I'll be really brief. Promised!
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