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The Scholz message for crisis-ridden Germany

The Chancellor did not want to confirm a snowball fight at the highest level of government, which was said to have taken place on the sidelines of the cabinet meeting in Meseberg, Brandenburg.

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The Scholz message for crisis-ridden Germany

The Chancellor did not want to confirm a snowball fight at the highest level of government, which was said to have taken place on the sidelines of the cabinet meeting in Meseberg, Brandenburg. At the final press conference, Olaf Scholz (SPD) said in a touch of humor: "I threw a snowball. But as befits a Federal Chancellor, on no one.”

The message of the witty remark is similar to that which should emanate from the entire meeting of the chancellor and his team of ministers: that the coalition stands despite all differences and is fully capable of acting. That despite the open disputes in Berlin, the "Eintracht traffic light" is at work.

She now wants to focus on the major, long-term challenges – and the coalition agreement. "We want to dare more progress," said Chancellor Scholz, citing the motto of the 144-page agreement. "We need more speed and confidence for that." The cabinet meeting "made an important contribution to this."

The driving force behind Meseberg's agenda is the intention of the federal government, after months of crisis management, to at least partially return to normality in government action and to act instead of constantly reacting to new trouble spots.

To finally do what the coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP stood for around 15 months ago: to advance the energy transition and steer the country towards climate neutrality. To further expand the welfare state and to dare even more redistribution. To change society and to make it more open from the point of view of the traffic light partners.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, the coalition has made little progress on most of these plans, at most small steps. The pressure is growing in the parliamentary groups, the traffic light parties and among the voters to deliver what the alliance set out to do.

For this reason alone, Scholz, Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) were visibly trying to demonstrate unity and a good coalition mood at the end of the cabinet meeting. The opportunity for informal talks among ministerial colleagues, as in Meseberg, "helps in day-to-day business," stated FDP leader Lindner. Cabinet colleague Habeck emphasized that it was "a privilege to be part of this federal government".

A little over two weeks ago, these two federal ministers wrote angry letters to assure each other of their sometimes low mutual esteem - and thus fueled doubts about the coalition's ability to cooperate and thus in the future. The traffic light partners, especially the FDP and the Greens, cross over in important policy areas.

This impression should now be dispelled. The disputed factual issues were only marginally discussed. "We didn't have any budget talks here, there was no reason for it," said Lindner. Next week on Wednesday he wants to present the key points for the budget for the coming year and is confronted with extra requests from his cabinet colleagues amounting to around 70 billion euros.

On the conflict issue of basic child security, Lindner said he was "100 percent confident that we'll get there". There were also completely different tones in the coalition a few days ago.

But now the government trio seems to want to keep a kind of truce after the numerous feuds of the past few weeks. And that's why chancellor and minister preferred to ignore the current challenges and focus on the future.

The accelerated expansion of renewable energies and the transformation of the economy driven by digitization and artificial intelligence are "connected with considerable opportunities" for Germany, said the Chancellor. An associated upswing will "leave the problem of unemployment behind, because there is a lot to do," said Scholz.

There is more to these statements than an attempt to distract from the quarrels in day-to-day business. The chancellor and his ministers are also concerned with promoting their long-term goals and thus their policies.

And to take away the fear of the challenges in the coming decades from the Germans, who are currently often plagued by worries. That is why the motto of this cabinet meeting was “spreading confidence”.

However, the coalition dispute could not be completely covered up. Christian Lindner announced that the FDP would not be dissuaded from resisting the end of cars with combustion engines from 2035. The FDP boss didn't want it too peacefully.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic, analyzed by WELT editors, and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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