He presented himself in Parliament with an eye patch, the result of a bad fall while playing sports, a metaphor for a bruised head of government in a nation that has returned to crisis after twenty years. Hard times for Germany and for Olaf Scholz, who asked the Bundestag to form a common front to overcome the “mold of bureaucracy, risk aversion and despondency” that have weighed down the continent’s largest economy in recent years. The idea of Germany that we often have in Italy, as a super-efficient, modern country with a solid economy, has never stood up to the test of facts, but the situation has definitely worsened. So much so that the chancellor himself has proposed a package of measures to streamline the country’s bureaucracy and accelerate the digitization of the economy.
“Sick of Europe? No thanks”
However, there are those in Germany who send the brand of “sick of Europe” back to the sender. “We are not, indeed we are doing better than other countries”, claimed the president of the Bundesbank Joachim Nagel, but the fact that we must defend ourselves against such an accusation already speaks volumes. Also because according to the International Monetary Fund, this year Germany could be the only member of the G7 with a contracting GDP, with an estimated drop of around 0.3%. The causes should be sought above all in the decline in exports to China and in the collapse of domestic consumption due to inflation. If the rising cost of living is a traditional bogeyman for Germans, it must be said that in recent months it has actually hit Germany harder than other countries, given its historical dependence on Russian gas. An energy crisis that also came just as Berlin was close to dismantling its nuclear power plants.
Counts that don’t add up
Meanwhile, Germany has not only gone from being a locomotive to bringing up the rear of the greats, but also from a guardian of rigor to a student caught red-handed with fake homework. A few days ago, in fact, the reminder of the German Court of Auditors, which contested the Minister of Finance, the liberal Christian Lindner, of having diverted billions of extraordinary expenses due to war and pandemic into special funds, deducting them from a deficit that in reality it would be at 2.4%, five times the officially declared one. A move also rejected by Brussels, where not without embarrassment Germany had to be reminded that the rules are the same for everyone. A call that comes directly to a super hawk, Lindner, who in recent weeks stands out in Europe for one of the most austere positions in the debate on the reform of the Stability Pact.
The advance of the ultra-right
This is yet another symptom of not only an economic slowdown for Berlin, which has instead progressively lost that political centrality always recognized to Angela Merkel to give way to a weak chancellor at the head of a contentious coalition. Who is benefiting from it? The far right of Alternative fuer Deutchland, which in the polls is steadily over 20%, above the SPD and a step away from the CDU/CSU, and which in some Laender such as Thuringia has become the first party, even surpassing 50 in some districts % of consents. The next test is set for 8 October, with elections in Bavaria, the most important Land in the country, a real state within a state. Here the CSU is in the lead but one looks above all at the all-right competition between the AFD and the Free Electors party, whose leader Hubert Aiwanger, the current Bavarian vice president, ended up under accusation for anti-Semitic sympathies in his youth.