The flood disaster in parts of Germany is likely to shape the political debate in the coming weeks. Unlike in the past, it is no longer just the Greens who see such extreme events as a consequence of climate change. “These are the harbingers of climate change that have now arrived in Germany,” said Federal Environment Minister Svenja…
The flood disaster in parts of Germany is likely to shape the political debate in the coming weeks. Unlike in the past, it is no longer just the Greens who see such extreme events as a consequence of climate change. “These are the harbingers of climate change that have now arrived in Germany,” said Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD). “No one can seriously doubt that this catastrophe is related to climate change,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) said. “I hope that these terrible floods will guide the election campaign to tackle our real future tasks.”
Twice in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, high water levels have also changed the political landscape. During the storm surge, which engulfed large parts of Hamburg in February 1962, the then Senator of the Interior Helmut Schmidt (SPD) instinctively acted so confidently and with the necessary ruthlessness towards formal responsibilities that his new image of power sent him to the chancellery twelve years later. brought. . His successor and party friend Gerhard Schröder decided in 2002 the so-called “rubber boat election campaign” for himself. It was August 14, four weeks before the election, when the Chancellor passed through Grimma, where the Mulde, otherwise a small river, had overflowed and flooded the town with murky brown soup. Schröder lent a hand, spoke worriedly into cameras. On the other hand, his opponent, Chancellor-candidate Edmund Stoiber, was on holiday on the North Sea island of Juist – and only had his condolences conveyed in writing.
Shortly afterwards, the CSU Prime Minister of Bavaria also rushed to Passau, where the situation was also dramatic, and a little later to East Germany. But in the perception of many voters, that was too late. Stoiber was seen as a cold-blooded administrative bureaucrat, while Schröder, whose red-green coalition had previously lagged in polls, was given his second term in office – his no to the war in Iraq played an important role, but so did the flood.
Aside from the grief over the many dead and destroyed existences, it now becomes politically interesting to see if and how this affects the federal election. “The Greens will certainly be able to stabilize now,” said the head of the Forsa polling institute, Manfred Güllner, amid the party’s recent campaign in a tailspin. However, he does not expect a fundamental change of mood as in 2002 as the flooding came closer to Election Day. Güllner also does not believe that the population will be startled by the current situation. “My expectation is that by then many people will survive as a unique natural disaster and see no direct link to increased climate protection and green politics,” Güllner said. On a personal level, however, the impression made by the actors involved as crisis managers should play a role, as should the even stronger focus on climate protection than already.
Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet and SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz are already being called upon to act as crisis managers – nevertheless the pledge also remains a political balancing act for NRW Prime Minister and Vice Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was officially on board in the US on Thursday necessary local sympathy such as the organization of aid to those affected and the charge of exploiting the situation for electoral motives. On the other hand, many voices also point to what would have happened if CDU boss Laschet had not canceled his planned participation in the CSU retreat at Seeon Monastery on Thursday.
Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock, on the other hand, cannot score points as a crisis manager without a government office. The Greens definitely want to avoid the charge of politically motivated staging. Party leader Robert Habeck expressed his condolences to those affected but does not want to go to the flooded areas: “This is the hour of the savior and not the hour of politicians who just stand in the way and I would be one of them.”