Olaf Scholz will succeed Merkel as German chancellor – and I confidently predict this is the only time the words ‘Scholz’ and ‘succeed’ will ever be used in the same sentence.
What I find both fascinating and instructive is that he is described as a centrist politician. This again emphasises the wide amplitude within which terminological goalposts move in politics.
In fact, the amplitude is so wide that words like ‘right’, ‘left’ and ‘centre’ stand for nothing concrete at all. Their meaning depends on the nature of the whole political spectrum.
For example, Stalin occupied the centre ground between Lenin on the right and Trotsky on the left. Was he a centrist then? Was Hitler, who found himself sandwiched between von Papen and Röhm?
That Scholz is seen as a centrist tells you more about Germany than about Olaf himself. By looking where he stands on all issues one can pinpoint the exact location of the German political spectrum.
Comrade (Genosse) Scholz’s stand on specific issues is covered by the umbrella statement of intent he issued after announcing his success in forming the governing coalition of his Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats.
“We are united by our belief in progress and that politics can achieve something good,” Scholz said. “We are united by the will to make the country better, to advance it and to hold it together.”
This statement defies Karl Popper by being unfalsifiable – its opposite is hard to imagine. We believe in regress? Politics can achieve something bad? We’ll make the country worse, stem its development and let it fall apart? I don’t think so.
But never mind intellectual rigour. Scholz has formed his ‘traffic-light coalition’ (red, green and yellow) under the slogan of “dare more progress”. What, even more than now? Anyway, let’s see what progress means to Genosse Scholz.
To start with, he talks about a “paradigm shift”. This idiom has the same effect on me as the word ‘culture’ is alleged to have had on another German centrist, Dr Goebbels.
Genosse Scholz’s paradigm on immigration is basically more of it. He has promised to make it easier for migrants to get visas and, after 3-5 years, citizenship.
One would have thought the Germans are fed up with a million Muslims who have entered the country over the past few years. Yet Scholz believes their appetite is insatiable.
His ambitions in this area go beyond Germany. Genosse Scholz plans to blackma…, sorry, I mean persuade other EU countries to take in more asylum seekers too. This sends a clear signal for Britain to prepare to accept even more boat people or, alternatively, fish their bodies out of the Channel.
Genosse Scholz’s paradigm then shifts into the nether regions, or rather out of them. People who feel suffocated by the yoke of their natal sex, will no longer have to submit to the surgical procedures currently demanded. All they’ll have to do is go to the register office, and, with a minimum of bureaucratic fuss, come out as new men, women or other.
While we are on the subject, the ban on abortion clinics advertising themselves will be lifted. As an old adman, may I suggest this slogan: “We are the cutting edge?” Remind me to check if the line works in German.
Recreational use of marijuana will be legalised, with licensed pharmacies able to sell it. One can just see a wizened old Apotheker asking his customer: “Regular or skunk, mein Herr?” I bet that hypothetical customer will choose skunk every time. It’s better at reaching the ultimate goal of drug use, psychosis.
Then, “No industrial nation will make greater efforts to protect the climate,” says Scholz’s finance minister-to-be. Considering that Britain has already undertaken to destroy her economy to that laudable end, Scholz’s coalition has its work cut out.
Yet when have Germans ever shied away from hard work? It has been announced that the coal industry will go kaput by 2030, not 2038, as Merkel promised. In less than a decade, wind farms and solar panels will proliferate so much that 80 per cent of German energy will come from renewable sources.
And if that doesn’t work, as it almost certainly won’t, perhaps Putin will kindly build a third gas pipeline. The second, Nord Stream 2, will start pumping soon.
Genosse Scholz also promises to borrow “unprecedented” sums to rid industry of every carbon molecule. The goal is ambitious for the precedent sets the bar quite high.
The country’s debt is currently 70 per cent of her GDP. That’s lower than Britain’s 85 per cent, but, with “unprecedented” application, the gap can be closed. However, my money is on Boris to keep Britain in the lead.
Yet Germany will race ahead in social policy. The coalition wants to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16, which is unlikely to lead to greater fiscal restraint or more social conservatism.
Some of Britain’s leading political scholars are in favour of enfranchising even 6-year-olds, but that still remains a cherished dream. Sixteen is a realistic goal, and achieving it will guarantee a smooth passage of the craziest bills through the Bundestag.
In international policy, Genosse Scholz is committed to a “multipolar” world. If you aren’t sure what that means, allow me to translate: the term designates turning Germany’s back on the US and Britain, and her face towards China and especially Russia.
Genosse Scholz believes that: “If we want to guarantee collective security in Europe, then it’s up to the EU and Russia to do so.” Since Europe’s security is threatened by no one other than Russia, this is tantamount to joining forces with an arsonist to install a fire safety system.
Still, one has to be grateful to Genosse Scholz for clarifying the meaning of the political centre. Danke, Genosse Scholz. Now we know. Give the man a few years, and he’ll join his mentor Schröder on the Gazprom board.