General debate: Scholz defends crisis course

The government and opposition have exchanged heated blows over the right crisis course for Germany in the face of the Ukraine war, lack of energy and inflation.

General debate: Scholz defends crisis course

The government and opposition have exchanged heated blows over the right crisis course for Germany in the face of the Ukraine war, lack of energy and inflation. In the general debate on the policies of the federal government, opposition leader Friedrich Merz (CDU) accused the traffic light coalition in the Bundestag of "miserable government action". Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), on the other hand, declared that the state would ensure that millions of citizens would get through the crisis on their own. "A crisis of which we can say today: our country has it under control."

The reason for the general debate was traditionally the budget of the chancellery, which was discussed on Wednesday in the one-week budget week. The 2023 federal budget envisages spending of around 476 billion euros and new borrowing of 45.6 billion euros.

Merz accused Scholz of wrong decisions and failures in crisis management. "They may not be able to do better. That probably won't change either," he said. "The tragedy is that the situation for millions of households and people in this country is getting worse every day." Many people no longer know how they are going to reach the end of the month financially, and many companies are up to their necks in water.

Scholz missed opportunities after his turnaround government declaration in February. At least once he should have given a big, sweeping speech, "which mobilizes the best forces in our country," said Merz. "Instead, you and your coalition are bogged down in constant arguments between your departmental ministers and in an increasingly evident loss of confidence among the population and our European neighbors and friends in the ability to find solutions and in the reliability of this federal government."

Scholz feels reminded of "Alice in Wonderland".

Scholz then accused Merz of a distorted representation of reality in Germany. His speech reminded him of "Alice in Wonderland". "You talk down what is really big, and vice versa. What actually happened and who was responsible for it all becomes blurred. And what sounds logical at first is in fact sheer nonsense."

Scholz defended the course of the traffic light coalition: "This federal government has set in motion, implemented and cleaned up more in twelve months than was possible in the governments of the past twelve years." The Chancellor emphasized the relief packages for citizens and companies worth billions. At the same time, investments are being made in infrastructure and digitization. Germany's energy security is "probably" guaranteed for this winter. Scholz referred to full gas storage facilities, liquid gas terminals, new supply contracts, the restart of coal-fired power plants and the continued operation of nuclear power plants.

The federal government had "reversed courageously," emphasized Scholz. Households and businesses across the country used energy sparingly. "That remains very important - especially with a view to the coming year and the winter of 2023."

The Chancellor went on to say that the federal government cannot subsidize the rise in energy prices entirely. "But we reduce it to a tolerable level." Scholz pointed out that sales tax on gas and district heating would be reduced and that gas and heating customers would receive a one-time payment for December. In addition, the framework conditions for the gas, heat and electricity price brakes for private households and companies are now in place. These should come into force on March 1st. They should also be paid out retrospectively for the months of January and February.

Left accuses coalition of insufficient crisis aid

The left accused the traffic light of chaos and insufficient help in view of the energy crisis and high prices. "Many people do not feel protected and supported," said parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch. The budget would have to provide a large protective shield, but it was "wellness for the wealthy and no help" for the majority of citizens. In winter there is a threat of an "impoverishment avalanche".

AfD faction leader Alice Weidel accused the traffic light coalition of leading the country to ruin. "Your policy is destroying Germany," she said. "Twelve months of traffic lights, that's twelve months of wanton destruction of our economy and our prosperity, twelve months of patronizing, paternalism and cupping of the citizens, twelve months of politics by a government that preaches restrictions while it draws on the full."

Green parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge called for more efforts to protect the climate. "Anyone who takes the climate crisis seriously knows that we will have to make a lot more effort." The pace must increase significantly, especially in the transport sector.