The country is in a state of emergency, and so are the politicians. The chancellor in quarantane in her apartment.
Her ministers appear before the cameras in earnest every day, and there is always a great deal at stake: billions in aid of historic proportions for the economy, people who are in acute fear of losing their jobs and their homes, the supply of food for supermarkets, and so on. A federal government in crisis manager mode. The electorate obviously likes it.
The union in particular is making gains in the polls, and the SPD a little too. Health minister jens spahn (CDU) is the man of the hour, CSU leader markus soder omnipresent as a particularly energetic corona fighter. Chancellor angela merkel (CDU) also earns praise abroad for level-headed but clear words.
But the union is not under any illusions, despite the fact that some of its numbers are even pushing past the 35 percent mark. These are snapshots, he says, that were mainly related to the appearance of the chancellor and her closest crisis fighters, such as health minister jens spahn, defense minister annegret kramp-karrenbauer or economics minister peter altmaier, who often appears together with finance minister olaf scholz (SPD).
The good values are linked to the fact that the aid packages for companies, jobs and tenants, which were adopted in a rush last week, are also working, believe strategists in the CDU. If they don’t, the mood could turn quickly at any time – depending on how the crisis in the healthcare system and the economy progresses.
The SPD is not looking too closely at the polls at the moment either – probably because its junior partner in the government is not benefiting anywhere near as much as the union. This leaves the willy-brandt house somewhat perplexed, especially since vice chancellor scholz is putting together and presenting one rescue package after another – and obviously feels comfortable in this strong position. However, as has often been the case with the SPD in recent years, others appear to be benefiting more from its government work.
Nevertheless, the coalition parties are currently winning mainly at the expense of the opposition – and that’s where the greens in particular stand out. In two out of three polls last weekend, they slipped below the 20 percent mark. Considering that they entered the bundestag in 2017 as the smallest faction with 8.9 percent, 17 to 19 is still a lot – but the expectation of the grunen has long been different. In the past few months, it was all about the candidacy for chancellor of a party that feels like it’s almost in government, and that likes to present itself as if it’s already sitting at the cabinet table.
Now the greens in the bund – like the FDP, the left and the afd – have to watch from the sidelines as the CDU/CSU and the SPD steer the country through the rough seas of the corona crisis. They are emphatically constructive, praise merkel and the cooperation with the government factions, and support coalition resolutions in the bundestag.
"Now is the hour of the executive," says jurgen trittin, the former federal minister – and reminds us that the greens co-govern in eleven federal states. In baden-wurttemberg, they even provide the minister-president, but nowhere, for example, a minister of the interior, who would now watch over contact bans for the health protection.
The green brand core of climate protection, which dominated politics for months, is suddenly a marginal issue. The activists of fridays for future, like everyone else, have to stay at home. Are interested in the climate crisis when it comes to short-time work, job loss, fear of losing one’s livelihood?? In the bundestag debate on the crisis, faction leader katrin goring-eckardt said the words "ecologically sensible" only once, at the very end of her speech.
Even before the corona pandemic, when an end to the long economic upswing was in sight, the greens joked: "whenever it’s our turn, the money runs out." Now there could be a deep crisis. The greens have been working on their economic image for a long time – ex-party leader cem ozdemir presented, the dual leadership of robert habeck and annalena baerbock continues. In social policy as well. Whether this will pay off now remains to be seen.
"It’s nothing new that the greens are also speaking out in terms of economic policy," says trittin. "Even before corona it was foreseeable that the growth would not continue like this, so we demanded that an investment fund be set up."When the crisis gained momentum, the party and parliamentary group reacted quickly, proposed measures that the black-red coalition included in its program some days later. Whether that helps? "You are perceived with the competence that is attributed to you," says trittin. "It’s better to prove yourself in government than with papers."