TV debate between Höcke and Voigt: Duel without a winner


As of: April 12, 2024 11:08 a.m

His plan to gain more notoriety paid off: Thuringia’s CDU leader Voigt was not lost in the TV debate. But AfD right winger Höcke was also able to collect material for his social media channels.

Who would have thought: Björn Höcke stumbles at Hackepeter of all places. The Thuringian state leader of the AfD actually speaks of “Mettbrötchen” in the TV duel and is given a real blast by his opponent Mario Voigt. “You don’t understand anything about Thuringia,” the CDU state leader, who was born in Thuringia, counters the faux pas and Höcke, who was born in Westphalia, briefly flounders.

Calling minced meat Mett is a huge mistake in Thuringia. Even saying “You’ll still be allowed to say that” doesn’t help.

It should actually be about Europe. Is the European Union a prosperity machine for Germany or more of an organization that destroys money? From Höcke comes the well-known AfD story about the bureaucratic monster in Brussels that leads people by the way and sucks the money out of their pockets – the usual steep thesis in a federal state that has benefited from EU payments since the fall of the wall. What you can’t miss if you walk through the country with your eyes open.

CDU leader Voigt still seems a bit taken aback at the beginning, but then catches himself and counters with the image of the European house that protects and shelters and where, at best, the tap drips or a window is broken.

Opposition light versus pure opposition

But who is the better opposition now – and against what? The duel clearly shows how treacherous a race in this discipline is for the CDU.

As populists, populists blame the state or government for all of life’s adversities. And they have no problem with fact-free arguments – for example when Höcke describes the cancellation of German development aid as the solution to all of Germany’s financial problems. Or if both opponents want to solve foreign crime through comprehensive deportations.

Anyone who advocates something like this, who do they believe? Opposition light is only moderately sexy in competition with fundamental opposition.

Björn Höcke

The Thuringian AfD state leader Björn Höcke has already been accused of incitement on several occasions. For this reason, his immunity as a member of the state parliament has already been lifted eight times.

Currently there is Investigations by the Halle public prosecutor’s office, because Höcke is said to have used a slogan of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary fighting organization of the NSDAP, that was banned in Germany at a meeting. From April 18th, Höcke will have to answer before the regional court in Halle.

Because of a post on Telegram, an indictment was also admitted at the Mühlhausen regional court on charges of incitement to hatred. The Meiningen Administrative Court also decided in September 2019, that based on his statements and publications it is permissible to describe Björn Höcke as a fascist.

For the duel, Voigt planned to send two messages to AfD supporters: The CDU understands your worries and needs, but unlike the AfD party leadership, it also has solutions ready. After enjoying the entire exchange of blows, one can assume that he was only partially successful.

Voigt, on the other hand, was able to convey the second message better: at the very end of the duel, he renewed his rejection of any coalition with the AfD after the Thuringian state elections in September, suggesting that anyone who votes for Höcke is wasting their vote. Due to a lack of coalition partners, the AfD has no option for power.

“You are not bourgeois, you are ethnic”

In fact, Höcke has done a lot in recent years to scare away possible sympathizers in the bourgeois parties. His publicly expressed extremist statements have a toxic effect on any CDU-AfD coalition considerations.

In the TV duel, the AfD leader did what he always does in such cases: when confronted with his statements, he reinterpreted them (“monument of shame”), invoked ignorance (use of SA slogans) or was unable to do so remember more when it came to passages from a programmatic book he wrote.

That didn’t seem credible. When Höcke asks Voigt for a “bourgeois coalition” towards the end of the exchange, he counters: “You are not bourgeois, you are ethnic.”

What remains? Who won?

Björn Höcke has collected a lot of material from the “mainstream media” that his followers will now edit into propaganda snippets for the AfD’s social media channels.

But Mario Voigt’s calculations worked out even more. He did not get lost in the TV debate that he consciously sought out and hyped up in the media. He remained calm, even though the godfather of the German party system acted like Rumpelstiltskin just a meter away from him.

And the Thuringian CDU leader has achieved what campaigners like him dream of in the challenger position: notoriety. Media coverage. Be the subject of comments and expert panels.

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