That was a powerful speech. With passion and sharpness, energy and a good instinct for addressing points that hurt. I'm ready for battle, that was the signal.
It wouldn't have been bad if the Chancellor had held her. But it was Friedrich Merz.
This day, this session in the Bundestag with Olaf Scholz's government declaration is a turning point in the Chancellor's term of office. The public has learned a lot, but so has Scholz himself. That almost two weeks after the slap from Karlsruhe he still doesn't have a plan B for his household? You know now. That he lacks the size to admit a mistake even though it caused the debt mess? It's clear now. That his government is hanging by a thread? Apparently.
The Chancellor has until Christmas to draw up a budget for the coming year, either the coalition saves for it or takes on new debt. One would actually have expected Scholz to outline the direction in which things should go; that he makes an announcement. But he doesn't dare, doesn't want to formulate red lines or express clear positions. In order to save the alliance, caution is the best option for him.
We know all of this now.
What Scholz now knows: that he has an opponent and the duel for the chancellorship has begun.
Sure, the speech by the chairman of the CDU was good, aggressive, devastating for the Chancellor, but that doesn't make it interesting. What was interesting was how confident Friedrich Merz felt. He is now emphasizing his greatest weakness because he is now convinced that it is actually a strength: the cliché that he and his entire party are relics of the 90s. Merz called out to the government bank that he was grateful for this attribution because it brought back memories of what good, conservative governance means.
Merz believes that the zeitgeist is changing. That he, the uncle from the old Federal Republic, could suddenly fit into the picture again without having to change much.
Everything can turn out differently, there is still a long way to go to the next election if the traffic light doesn't break prematurely. The Greens are still there and Friedrich Merz will certainly get in his own way again, he is still Friedrich Merz. But the SPD's old story that Scholz has almost won the election as soon as Merz, the supposed citizen terror, is officially announced as the Union's candidate for chancellor should perhaps be reconsidered in the Willy Brandt House.
Yes, the CDU leader stands for a return to an old order. But that's exactly what makes him dangerous for Scholz in these times.