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Olaf Scholz: Germany's most unpopular chancellor

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News analysis: Olaf Scholz is the least popular chancellor in 27 years. Confidence in his government declined.

Short version

When Schulz, a Social Democrat, became chancellor in December 2021, many Germans felt excitement and optimism: finally, something new had come after Christian Democrat Angela Merkel's 16-year rule.

Many reforms were on the agenda. But just a few months later came the major Russian invasion of Ukraine. Foreign policy and energy policy ended up at the top of the agenda in Germany.

Since then, the government's popularity has fallen like a rock. Now it is Two-thirds of Germans Little or no satisfaction with the work being done.

With the EU elections, the polls got serious. Voters fled the three ruling parties:

  • The Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) were supported by 51% of voters when they were elected in 2021.
  • In the EU elections, they eventually got just over 30%.

Olaf Scholz is the least popular chancellor since 1997, according to an opinion poll conducted in Germany Infratest Demap. Then Helmut Kohl was on the eve of his reign.

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There will be no new elections as in France, writes Aftenposten commentator Frank Rosavik.

The leaders of the three parties were very happy when they formed a government in December 2021. But just a few months later came the major Russian invasion of Ukraine and the energy crisis.  From the right are Robert Habeck (Greens), Olaf Scholz (Social Democrats), and Christian Lindner (Free Democrats).

But what's behind all the dissatisfaction? Here are some explanations.

1. Lack of communication.

The government is unable to communicate. Complaints are often directed at Chancellor Scholz himself. He is described as silent and reserved.

An example of this is Russia's war in Ukraine. For a long time the topic was left to Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck. He is the Minister for Business and Climate and is known for his special ability to talk to people.

2. Work on heating.

But Habeck also took a real hit when the government introduced “Heizungsgesetz,” a law ensuring that the buildings of the future will be heated with renewable energy.

People were angry. The law was difficult to understand. What was the outcome for the individual family? Did they have to get rid of the oil boiler and invest in expensive heat pumps? Habeck made no progress with his explanations. A moderated version was later adopted.

3. Internal conflict.

“Whoever asks me to drive gets it.” Olaf Schulz made this statement on the campaign trail several years ago. Now it is used more cynically. Critics point out that he is unable even to keep his government under control. The two junior partners are actually politically distant.

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Example: Liberal Democrat Christian Lindner sits on the purse. This makes it difficult for the Green Party to achieve its climate reforms. This means that the Green Party will not be the green party that voters expect.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats are struggling to deliver on their social promises. Party leader Saskia Esken blames a lack of funding.

Members of the Liberal Democratic Party are ardent supporters of tax cuts. Many Lindner voters believe he offers too much at the door.

The dispute between the two sides is still escalating. They must agree on a limited budget. Politico He writes that this could mean the fall of the government.

4. They do not deliver the goods.

But voter discontent may not be due to communication or infighting. People don't care about that kind of thing. Instead, many feel that the government does not know the reality in which people live. Election promises were not fulfilled. Voters want content, not explanations. They are not stupid.

This is what writer Julie Zeh, a member of the Social Democratic Party, said on the talk show Heart Abeer Gallery The day after the EU elections.

She also criticised the SPD's election campaign. It is not enough to position oneself in the extreme right direction. Politicians must fight for what they stand for and show what they want.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz is known for his silence.  When asked to comment on the dismal outcome of the EU elections, he replied simply

5. Weak immigration policy.

Just days before the EU elections, a policeman was killed by an Afghan in Mannheim. Police assume the motive was Islamist. In the wake of the murder, the debate on immigration once again dominated the media.

Immigration is important to voters. The hot topic is that people whose asylum applications have been rejected continue to live in Germany. The government's failure to deport them or others without a residence permit is provocative.

6. Anxiety about the future.

The fear is that development is now heading in the wrong direction. One example of this is how confidence in the German economy has declined.

In 2019, 59 percent believed the German economy was in good shape. Now only 12% answer the same question. One appears Opinion poll The TV channel ZDF did on EU election day.

7. Youth struggle.

For the first time, 16-year-olds can vote. The Greens have fought for this right. Ironically, the party itself was the biggest loser in this year’s EU elections.

In the 16 to 24 age group, the Green Party's numbers fell by a whopping 23 percentage points compared to the last EU elections. On the other hand, the far-right Alternative for Germany party increased its support by 11 percentage points.

Young Germans have become more pessimistic. This is what the annual survey “Jugend in Deutschland” shows. Stress, burnout, and inaction are widespread.

The main concerns are inflation, war and unaffordable housing. At the same time, it is common for young people to vote against the establishment. As a result, ruling parties lose votes. The Alternative for Germany and the Christian Democrats win.

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