The Scholz government is creaking, and creaking on restrictions. We had already announced it in the last article, pointing to Germany as the weak link in the nefarious "pact of restrictions" which, under the banner of a strengthened vaccine pass, sees as protagonists not only the Teutonic country, but also Italy and France. We also underlined how the two fault lines on which the fracture on this issue would have manifested itself would have been the heterogeneity of the government coalition and the federal nature of the country, and the forecasts are proving to be correct.
Liberal Democrats call for return to normalcy within a month
Last week the FDP group leader in the Bundestag Christian Dürr announced to the press that his party has no intention of voting for the extension beyond March 19 of the anti-covid measures currently in force, including the highly contested 2G, the equivalent of our enhanced green pass, which in many German states is even required for access to stores. Dürr's position was clear: "On March 19 we must return to normality". A completely opposite line to that of Health Minister Lauterbach and the president of the Robert Koch Institut, Lothar Wieler.
Confirming that this is not an extemporaneous statement, but a choice shared by the entire party, other important members of the FDP, such as the vice-president of the Bundestag Wolfgang Kubicki and the general secretary of the party Bijan Djir-Sarai, have also confirmed this.
The news caused a particular stir, given that the Liberal Democrats of the FDP are members of the government coalition. In short, if the oppositions voted unanimously no to the extension of the measures, they would naturally expire in a little over a month, decreeing a "free-for-all" on the model of the British and Danish.
CDU-CSU: between the desire to trip up Scholz and "responsibility".
However, it is not certain that this will happen: the extension of the measures could still be voted by a majority with the votes of political forces outside the government, in particular from the still numerous Merkelian faction within the CDU; a prospect that would even qualify as probable if the centrists let their deputies vote according to freedom of conscience (or if they suggest abstention).
The situation is complicated for the CDU: a vote against the extension of the restrictions would mean crippling the Ampelkoalition only two months after its inauguration, much earlier than the most optimistic dreams would suggest, but it would also embarrass the CDU by placing it alongside the "unpresentable" populists of the AfD, who have always been openings advocate.
Theoretically, there would still be room for negotiation between the more openist positions (FDP and AfD), the extremists of closures (SPD and Greens) and the supporters of a compromise position (CDU-CSU and Die Linke), and even if Scholz could impose himself by authority, it is likely that it would be very difficult to govern after having displeased the Liberal Democrats, who hold the strategic Ministry of the Economy and whom the polls show in sharp decline due to the failed promises on reopenings. In this regard, there is no less confusion in the ranks of the CDU: while Secretary Friedrich Merz is calling for talk of an exit strategy from the emergency, leading party figures such as Hendrik Wüst, governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, the richest and most populous German Land (18 million inhabitants), are in favor of continuing the hard line at least until mid-May.
Lauterbach and Robert Koch Institut increasingly isolated
In this context of general confusion, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is firmly opposed to the easing of restrictions, stating publicly on ZDF television that in case of relaxation of restrictive measures there would be "at least five hundred deaths per day" (compared to about two hundred at present). A statement not supported by any scientific study, which in addition to the liberal allies has also caused an uproar in the CDU, with the centrist secretary of the Land of Hamburg Christoph Ploß who called Lauterbach "minister of anxiety".
In this perspective, Angstminister Lauterbach seems to be more and more isolated; Stephan Rixen, professor of Public Law at Bayreuth University and government advisor as member of the German Ethics Council, stated that the minister's gloomy prophecies about half a thousand deaths per day in case of reopenings are "totally random" and without foundation, adding that "people's fundamental rights cannot be restricted on the basis of unverified figures". Echoing Rixen was Thorsten Lehr, professor of statistics at the University of Saarland, who pointed out that figures comparable to those of Lauterbach could be reached only if an incidence rate of four thousand infections per one hundred thousand inhabitants was reached, while at the moment the German incidence rate is eight times lower and the pandemic is now largely in flux throughout the country.
From Bavaria comes a worrying alarm from the Association of Bavarian Psychologists who, in their latest study on the mental health of minors, have reported that in two thirds of high school classes in the Land there are from one to three students who now need strong psychological support to cope with the pandemic, while in a fifth of classes there are up to six students in need of support. An unsustainable situation, which has nothing to do with the so-called "remote learning" but is instead closely related to restrictions and alarmism in the media.
Defections from the Länder
Defections from the closurist front also continue to be recorded on the Länder's side.
In Bavaria, CSU governor Markus Söder maintains an ambiguous attitude, proceeding with some timid reopenings (the enhanced pass for personal services has just been abolished) while supporting calls for caution. After Lower Saxony, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which have already abolished the green pass for stores and personal services, Schleswig-Holstein, Hesse and Brandenburg have now also distanced themselves from the "Lauterbach-Wieler protocol", while Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the city-state of Berlin should do so within a week. In fact, non-vaccinated Germans living in "closed" regions now only need to travel a few kilometers to shop regularly and without any restrictions.
From Italy, it is possible to notice the general chaos that reigns in Germany, while in our country and in France the locks of the closures and the control of the passes still seem to be firmly in the hands of firmly cohesive governments and, moreover, corroborated by a still majority support from public opinion. As already mentioned, unless there are unlikely earthquakes in Paris or Rome, Berlin will be the first to give in and it will be very difficult for the Rome-Paris axis to maintain the hard line in a Europe that has now almost completely returned to normal.
He has been dealing with politics and is a cultural and opinion editor for over ten years. Co-founder and animator of the portal of information and in-depth analysis Progetto Prometeo. A student of philosophy, he has been working for years on the theme of the revaluation of nihilism and the great German romantic philosophy.