Small parties in a four-way battle: more substance than the big ones


Status: 14.09.2021 02:31 a.m.

In the four-way battle on ARD, the top candidates from the CDU, Left, FDP and AfD provided more substance in their debate than the Chancellor candidates in their rhetorical three-way battle.

An analysis by Alfred Schmit, ARD capital studio

In terms of content, this political evening was in some respects more substantial than the three-way battle for the Chancellery. He confirmed a few clichés and had a few surprises in store. The main priorities in the four-way battle between the smaller parties were climate and environmental protection, migration and social justice – everything that is on top of the list of the most important topics in surveys.

At the beginning of each topic discussion, the show put a series of core claims, where the top people should raise or lower their thumbs. Similar to Wahl-o-Mat, which uses a questionnaire to give you clues as to where which party stands. This worked visually as an eye-catcher and gave the complex debate a structure.

Albrecht von Lucke, political scientist, on the four-way battle after the Trielli

Tagesschau24 9:00 p.m., 13.9.2021

Surprises and confirmed clichés

One of the confirmed clichés is that the Left Party wants a tax on the rich, but the FDP argues against it with business interests. This also means that the CSU says you can throw your car key after the ballot if you vote left and green. And unfortunately also that the AfD is raising the mood with allegations of alleged mass abuse of asylum, even with reference to local Afghan workers – a false claim that met with surprisingly little protest.

One of the surprises of the evening is that the AfD no longer completely denies man-made climate change. And that the CSU claims to want to unleash the economy is just as astonishing as its demand for better digitization, because it had a lot of time for both during the time of the grand coalition and even had its own minister in the form of Andreas Scheuer or with Dorothee Bär its own representative in the Federal Chancellery.

It is also surprising that the left has nothing against private health insurance. And that the FDP has recently shown so much sympathy for the CSU that it almost forgot to keep a back door open for a social-liberal coalition with the SPD. After all, FDP boss Lindner was so honest as to admit through the flower that the Union would be his favorite partner in the federal government – but unfortunately, in view of the weak poll figures, some compromises could be imminent.

How capable of governing did the parties present themselves?

As far as the ability of the four parties to govern, it became clear that no one wanted to form a coalition with the AfD. And that the left has sidelined. Mainly because it wants to dissolve NATO. The top candidate Janine Wissler made this clear, and it seems like a rejection of Germany’s ties to the West – a real knockout criterion for possible government participation. This is not an option for any other party and this attitude definitely prevents coalitions with the left at the federal level.

This position is remarkable, since the left party leadership just last week presented an emergency program in the event of a red-green-red coalition in the federal government. It now looks like lip service that you just wanted to keep talking to. One thing is also certain: there is a party convention reservation that the left has built in if it comes to red-green-red. A party conference decision would have to bring in the strong forces within the party that oppose NATO, and that could tip things over in an afternoon.

The CSU does not need to prove its will to govern or its fundamental willingness to govern. The FDP is under unspoken pressure not to say no again to government participation. The deep-seated frustration of the cancellation of the Jamaica negotiations in November 2017 is too strong for many party members. Thus, the FDP could adjust its decision, depending on how the parliamentary groups of the Union, SPD and Greens look on the evening of the election.

In terms of content, often more substantial than the “three-way battle for the Chancellery”

In any case, the evening was full of content: Anyone who wanted to get into the nuances of the German pension system or wealth and corporate taxation could learn a lot here. For example, that the left has adapted its ideas for a tax on the wealthy. Although she wants to get in touch with business assets – which almost all the other parties would prevent – but has agreed on more generous upper limits.

The AfD, on the other hand, presents itself in tax and economic policy as the protector of the middle class. However, it is likely to go wrong with the assumption that the end of the continued payment of wages in the case of corona quarantine of unvaccinated people will not last in court.

FDP boss Lindner reiterated his proposals for a share-based addition to the pension system, similar to the one in Norway, so that long-term returns from the capital market can flow in here. The CSU accused Lindner of contributing excessively high state subsidies to the pension system and of abusing the system for election gifts such as the mothers’ pension.

At this point, CSU regional group leader Dobrindt justified that the mother’s pension, for example, was a question of social justice and not an election campaign tool. Neither party wants a higher retirement age. Nobody wants a corona vaccination obligation. And everyone wants fair taxes; they only understand fairness to be something different.

Conclusion: at least one of the four small parties could co-govern

The bottom line is that the audience of this four-way battle definitely had the more entertaining and informative evening compared to the three who are running for the Chancellery. At least one of these four smaller parties is likely to be involved in the government. But it would depend very much on how big the parliamentary groups are in the end. According to the current polls, the Union would have to offer the Greens and the FDP a lot to get them to turn their backs on the SPD.

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