Arriving at the half-term mark, leading politicians of Berlin’s three-party government, which due to major internal differences still has not passed a sound budget for FY 2023 and is still far away from a budget for 2024, are trying to display artificial optimism that this government may stay in place for the second half of its term.
The government may as well fall apart over the budget issue, but the three coalition parties have every reason to fear early elections that a broad majority of citizens have called for in recent opinion polls. Chancellor Olaf Scholz is down to a rating of 5%, his Social Democrats down to 14%. The Greens are down to 14% as well, in some polls show down to 12%, and the Free Democrats would not get reelected to the Bundestag with their rating of 4%. That alone should encourage the FDP to quit the coalition, as a life-saving ring, but party leaders want to stick to their government posts—which is a motive for Scholz to override all differences on issues and expect the FDP to stay. As for the Social Democrats, senior columnist Gabor Steingart writes that Scholz is firmly committed to policies that will turn his party into a non-government organization….