Berlin (dpa) – In their first major televised exchange of blows, the three candidates for chancellor of the CDU / CSU, the SPD and the Greens underlined their differences. In the triumph of broadcasters RTL and ntv, Union candidate Armin Laschet and Greens candidate Annalena Baerbock, also behind, were combative.
SPD candidate Olaf Scholz countered the allegations calmly. According to a quick poll that the Forsa Institute released immediately after on behalf of broadcasters, Scholz’s recipe worked.
36% of the approximately 2,500 people polled said that Scholz had won the triumph. 30 percent saw Baerbock in the lead, only 25 percent Laschet. When asked who was more sympathetic, Scholz led the way with 38%, followed by Baerbock (37%) and Laschet (25%). The three had debated issues such as foreign and security policy, the debacle in Afghanistan, corona policy, tackling climate change and fiscal policy. Agreement was also evident on some issues.
Tax policy was one of the triell’s most controversial topics. Laschet fiercely attacked Scholz and Baerbock – and accused them of raising taxes “whenever we can”. Scholz was strictly against tax cuts. “I am in favor of balancing our tax system a little better by charging people who are in my income bracket or above a little more, not that much,” he said. Baerbock also advocated that the stronger shoulders should also be more heavily loaded. She said it was deeply unfair that one in five children in Germany lived in poverty. Under her chancellery, a single mother with two children would save 2,000 euros per year.
Baerbock accused the Union and the SPD of “doing nothing” on climate policy. She promised that in the future she would “not want to do anything halfway.” For example, it wants to enforce the obligation to install solar panels on the roofs of new buildings. The government coalition prevented the latter. In return, Laschet accused the Greens of “wanting to chain the industry”. He reaffirmed his position to speed up planning and approval procedures, for example to promote the expansion of wind power. Scholz also promised to cut red tape and create planning security for industry – for example, with electricity. He wants to define Germany’s additional electricity needs in order to become climate neutral.
The boss of the CDU Laschet spoke in favor of increased video surveillance of public spaces against crime and acts of violence. Women felt more unsafe in underground passages, tunnels and parks, he said. Baerbock replied: “Unfortunately, women are the most precarious within their walls.” She highlighted the attacks from partners and ex-partners. SPD candidate Scholz said video surveillance is a possibility that has already been used and that he supports. Baerbock, on the other hand, warned against setting up a “cardboard comrade” with surveillance cameras: “I want our police to be better equipped.”
After the catastrophe of NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Laschet, Scholz and Baerbock unanimously called for the strengthening of Germany’s role in security policy. Laschet reiterated his call for a National Security Council linked to the Chancellery. “We will have to better equip our Bundeswehr,” he said. Baerbock accused the federal government of slipping into Afghanistan. “You have placed domestic political motives above the responsibility of foreign policy,” she said. Scholz, whose party friend Heiko Maas heads the Foreign Ministry, called for increased international cooperation and the availability of Bundeswehr soldiers for peace and security protection missions in the future. He said that with him as Minister of Finance, the defense budget amounted to more than 50 billion euros.
All three candidates for chancellor have spoken out in favor of avoiding further large-scale daily restrictions due to the corona pandemic. Scholz said there were now so many vaccinated that it could and should be said very clearly: “There will be no new lockdown.” Laschet also spoke out in favor of doing everything possible to prevent a lockdown. “I also think it’s realistic.” Baerbock explained: “From today we don’t need a new lockdwon.” The three candidates to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) have also campaigned to improve the vaccination rate.
Scholz also did not expressly rule out a coalition with the Left Party. But he linked each formation of government to “indispensable” principles. This included clear commitments to NATO and EU membership, a healthy approach to money and economic growth, and internal security. He stressed: “I will not negotiate with anyone under any circumstances.” Looking to the left, Scholz said the past few days have not helped matters. The fact that the left did not support the operation to evacuate the German armed forces in Afghanistan from the Bundestag “really saddened him”. Laschet countered that citizens were waiting for a statement on whether Scholz would allow himself to be elected chancellor from the left – yes or no. He stressed that the Union would not form a coalition with the left. And she wants the AfD to disappear from parliaments. From Baerbock’s point of view, the issue of climate protection is at the heart of any coalition negotiation.
The leader of the Left parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Dietmar Bartsch, reacted disappointed. “The Triell proposed a debate on the real problems of the people,” Bartsch said of the “Rheinische Post” in Düsseldorf (Monday). “Three candidates, one opinion” – there was a lot of debate about the sentences. The leader of the Greens parliamentary group, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, wrote on Twitter: “Scholz lives by the motto ‘If you don’t say nothing you say nothing bad’ and Laschet scrambles out of responsibility as much as possible” . CSU boss Markus Söder tweeted: “A solid performance and a clear win from Armin Laschet.” Others complained that the subject of digitization had been left out entirely.