Amazingly, one thing was never out of the question in this election campaign: In the end, someone will be found who is insane enough and wants to hold the office of Federal Chancellor.

Whether Annalena Baerbock, Armin Laschet or Olaf Scholz: none of the three gave the impression that they only accepted the candidacy under threat of violence.

On the contrary: at least with the Greens and Union, Robert Habeck or Markus Söder would also have liked to have done it.

Only in the SPD was Scholz unrivaled, which was not due to the office itself - but to the fact that initially hardly anyone ascribed serious opportunities to the Social Democrats.

Ralph Bollmann

Correspondent for economic policy and deputy head of economics and “Money & More” for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in Berlin.

  • Follow I follow

That is surprising.

Since the tough Corona winter 2020/21 at the latest, it has been accepted that there is actually not much left to save in this country.

Schools without the Internet, chaos at vaccination appointments, fax machines at the authorities, quarreling prime ministers in the ongoing federal dispute: During the election campaign, the candidates themselves never tired of describing the problems in the darkest colors - no matter how long they had been running the country themselves.

Germany, as we know from the Trielles, gives the image of a banana republic.

Why, for heaven's sake, would anyone want to move into the office on the seventh floor of the Chancellery, where a portrait of Konrad Adenauer is currently hanging - optionally to be replaced by a portrait of Willy Brandt or Winfried Kretschmann?

Merkel has also tried reforms

After all, Angela Merkel also started out as a reformer. She went into the election campaign in 2005 with a program of change, she wanted to fundamentally change the tax and social welfare system. She purposefully occupied the family ministry for her party in order to enforce parental allowance and the right to a day care center. In the end, shockingly little remained of that: her plans for economic reforms failed due to the voters, her new family policy kept many women in the job, but in the end often only worked part-time. In matters of climate, in which she excelled on the international stage, she did little at home. “The mess that Merkel is leaving behind,” headlines the British “Economist” this week to describe the situation in the country.

In the end, Merkel's verdict was clear: the Germans are too resistant to change, too spoiled for wealth for even a Chancellor to achieve much.

Above all, the "establishment", to which the head of government, of all people, even after 16 years in office, did not really want to be responsible, she blamed: sluggish business leaders, recalcitrant state politicians, stubborn lawyers in management positions.

In one of her farewell speeches at the beginning of the year at the virtual world economic forum in Davos, she relentlessly listed the deficiencies in the country, as if she had nothing to do with them herself.

And should all of this suddenly get better with a less experienced successor in the Chancellery?

Absurd federalism

Let's start with the most hopeless thing, a reform of federalism.

There were two attempts at the beginning of Merkel's term of office, in both cases the effects were modest.

The countries tenaciously defend the competences that were the last remaining to them and in which they excel least of all, especially education policy.

During the pandemic, the country leaders fought absurdly against each other.

There is no improvement in sight: the prime ministers would have to agree to their own disempowerment in the state chamber with a two-thirds majority.

Even with that little would be gained.

Almost all federal laws are implemented by state administrations.

The fact that Bremen vaccinates much better than Saxony is not due to the legal requirements.

They are identical everywhere in Germany.

Keywords: