Political Ash Wednesday: Söder denies the Greens’ ability to govern

As of: February 14, 2024 9:58 p.m

Parties traditionally invite people to a political retreat on Ash Wednesday. CSU boss Söder used this to launch an all-round attack on the traffic lights – especially against the Greens. He caused outrage with a Margot Honecker comparison.

At his party’s Political Ash Wednesday in Passau, CSU leader Markus Söder clearly rejected participation by the Greens in government after the next federal election. “We as the CSU don’t want any Greens in the next federal government, no black-green,” said the Bavarian Prime Minister. The Greens are not fit to govern. Söder – to the delight of his listeners in the Dreiländerhalle – clearly opposed CDU leader Friedrich Merz, who does not categorically rule out collaboration with the Greens.

Merz himself defended his position. “We will do a damn thing to close off all options and thus take away any room for maneuver,” he said at the CDU Thuringia’s Political Ash Wednesday in Apolda. In Hesse, Prime Minister Boris Rhein was only able to get major concessions from the SPD because he had two partners to negotiate with.

“The traffic lights have to go”

Söder once again called on the traffic light government in the federal government to clear the way for new elections: “To the traffic lights: You had your chance. It’s over. Clear the way. New elections are needed. The traffic lights have to go.”

The Free State is also suffering massively from federal politics, said Söder. “The traffic light is our big brake,” he said. The SPD, Greens and FDP have been discriminating against Bavaria at every opportunity for years. “Bavaria can live more easily without Germany than Germany without Bavaria. Because then Germany would be bankrupt.”

Political Ash Wednesday

Political Ash Wednesday goes back to a cattle market in the 19th century in Vilshofen, Lower Bavaria, and rallies by the farmers’ association later followed there. Since the 1970s, Political Ash Wednesday has been primarily associated with the CSU. CSU patriarch Franz Josef Strauss initially performed in a small inn for many years before moving the rally to the Nibelungenhalle in Passau in 1975. Over the years, all parties adapted the format.

Comparison with Margot Honecker

He compared Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens), who comes from East Germany, to the wife of the former GDR State Council Chairman Erich Honecker, who died in 2016. Lemke is a prime example of the Greens’ attempt to restrict the freedom of the hardworking through ever new requirements, as the “Green Margot Honecker,” he said.

Margot Honecker (1927-2016) was Minister for Public Education in the SED regime for 26 years. Among other things, she was responsible for the system of special homes and youth work centers. In the Torgau closed youth center in particular, children and young people were detained, humiliated and mistreated for political reasons.

Lemke, who was born in Dessau (Saxony-Anhalt), was a founding member of the Green Party in the GDR in the year the Berlin Wall fell, which emerged from environmental groups in opposition to the SED regime.

Lemke has already reacted to Söder’s comparison in a clear way: “This derailment by Markus Söder is as forgetful of history as it is cross-border,” explained a spokesman for Lemke. In 1989, Lemke took to the streets with hundreds of thousands of people to demonstrate for freedom, democracy and against the GDR regime.

Wagenknecht: “Most dangerous government in Europe”

Also in Passau, party founder Sahra Wagenknecht hit out at the federal government. She had already described the traffic light coalition as the stupidest government in Europe, she said at the Political Ash Wednesday of her newly founded Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW) party in an inn. Regarding the spending on armaments and arms aid for Ukraine, she added: “We also have the most dangerous government in Europe.”

The former left-wing politician spoke of the “killing argument” that Russia would be at the door if no further arms were upgraded and no more weapons were delivered to Ukraine. This is probably a primal fear of the Germans. “I wonder, how stupid do they think we are?”

The CDU and CSU got their fat in Vilshofen – in the speech by SPD leader Klingbeil.

Klingbeil: Merz and Söder are offended

The SPD invited people to their Ash Wednesday in Vilshofen in Lower Bavaria. Party leader Lars Klingbeil accused Union politicians Söder and Merz of playing a lying game: one day the Union wants to work with the federal government, the next day it doesn’t.

“They want to destroy the lawn,” said Klingbeil. Merz and Söder are offended that they lost the last federal election. “What this opposition is doing is irresponsible.”

But Klingbeil attacked the AfD even more harshly: “They’re not crazy, they’re tough right-wing extremists,” he said.

Green Party co-leader Nouripour thanks farmers

Still unaware of the farmers’ protests that caused the Greens’ Ash Wednesday to be canceled in Biberach, Baden-Württemberg, Greens leader Omid Nouripour thanked the farmers who are taking to the streets against the federal government’s policies. “I am extremely grateful for all the farmers’ protests,” he said at his party’s Political Ash Wednesday in Landshut, Bavaria.

“There were a lot of people who said beforehand: ‘Oh, God, they’ve been infiltrated by the right-wing extremists.’ That didn’t happen because, above all, the farmers’ association, other associations and the farmers themselves fought back,” emphasized Nouripour. He has a huge thank you to say for that.

FDP politician Strack-Zimmermann holds a protest poster in Dingolfing describing her as a “warmonger”.

Strack-Zimmermann calls Merz a “flight dwarf”

Allow yourself to be bullied by a demonstrator? That would probably never occur to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, as the FDP European top candidate demonstrated at the Political Ash Wednesday in Dingolfing. There she briefly went from the lectern and picked up a protester’s A2-sized piece of paper with the words “warmonger” written on it.

“It’s good that you’re not with the Greens. They would have gendered that and made a ‘warmonger’ out of it,” the chairwoman of the Bundestag Defense Committee instructed the protester, who apparently came from her own ranks.

But Strack-Zimmermann also dealt against politicians from other parties. For example, she called CDU chairman Merz a “flying dwarf”. In contrast, she confirmed that Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) was doing a “super job”.

Left leader demands Peace negotiations

In her Ash Wednesday speech, Left leader Janine Wissler focused on the war in the Middle East and rearmament. The federal government called on them to work for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The children of Gaza are not responsible for the terrible terror of Hamas, said Wissler, also in Passau.

Peace negotiations are needed – as well as for an end to the war in Ukraine, said the party leader. Further armament does not ensure peace. “It sends shivers down my spine when a German defense minister says that Germany must become ready for war,” said Wissler.

AfD sees the “blue sun” rising

The AfD presented six speakers in front of around 450 spectators in Osterhofen, whose tone only differed gradually. Bundestag member Stephan Brandner was pleased that Thuringia had allowed him to leave the country: “I’m a right-wing extremist.” He accused anti-AfD demonstrators of being “chipped”.

The Bavarian AfD state chairman Stephan Protschka declared that he was “a European at heart, through and through. But I don’t give a shit about Brussels and Strasbourg.” The Bavarian AfD parliamentary group leader Katrin Ebner-Steiner said with a view to this year’s state elections in three eastern German states: “The blue sun rises in the east in autumn.” The AfD is the “democratic counter-revolution against the seizure of power from above,” she shouted. The AfD will restore democracy in Germany.

With information from Petr Jerabek and Michael Kubitza, BR

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