Macron is ‘untethered’ without Angela Merkel says expert
As Covid vaccine tensions intensify across the European Union, the German Chancellor has been faced with growing tensions at home. A junior partner in the coalition government led by Mrs Merkel branded the debacle surrounding the rollout of the jab “a disgrace”.
In recent weeks the Chancellor has been appearing more often in public to discuss the public health crisis.
Crisis researcher Frank Roselieb analysed her appearance on Germany’s broadcaster ARD last week.
As she discussed the pandemic, he said she looked “like a student at an interrogation” who was “caught cheating”.
He said her appearance was a far cry from the “almost perfectly choreographed” TV address she delivered at the beginning of the epidemic last March.
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Mr Roselieb said: “In the meantime, the compass seems to have been lost a bit.”
As Germany’s economy suffers heavily due to the effects of lockdown and the country is gripped by vaccine uncertainty thanks to the EU’s blunders, Mrs Merkel is seeking to be a more visible figure for citizens.
Whereas in the past she sent health minister Jens Spahn to provide updates to the public, in recent weeks she has chosen to carry out the task herself.
Andrea Römmele, a communication and political scientist, said the Chancellor’s priorities have clearly changed.
He told German news site Welt.de: “Now that things are getting tough, Merkel is no longer sending the health minister, but stepping forward herself.
“Merkel is now mercilessly making this a top priority.
“Now she wants to pick up the people and commit them to the measures”.
Last week tensions in the bloc over the vaccine delay threatened to boil over.
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German finance minister Olaf Scholz hit out at European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for her handling of the matter.
Mr Scholz is the most senior cabinet member from the Social Democratic party (SDP) in the coalition with Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
German federal elections are scheduled to be held in September, and the SDP are showing signs of distancing themselves from their partners.
Uwe Jun, a political scientist at Trier University, said the SDP group “is desperately looking for a way to build its own profile” as Germans prepare to go to the polls.
He added: “But the probability that this will backfire for them is higher than the chance of profiting from it.”
He is the SDP’s candidate for chancellor as Mrs Merkel is set to step down later this year.
On Sunday Mr Scholz vowed to work with Mrs Merkel’s conservatives in their coalition government until the last day before the elections, and not to campaign “with foaming mouths”.
Differences between the parties would become clearer ahead of the federal election, Mr Scholz said, but he added: “We are government. We will do our job until the last day.”
“Never will this task take a back seat to any other,” Scholz said, adding the SPD would campaign “not with foaming mouths, but with a clear concept”.
The SPD only reluctantly entered into coalition with Mrs Merkel in 2018 after her conservative alliance’s talks with liberals and Greens collapsed.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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