It was worthwhile to watch the daily topics on Monday evening after the talk show "Hart aber fair". There was an interview with the Federal Minister of Economics. Robert Habeck was connected from Jena, where he had traveled for the Federal Government's Digital Summit. For the interview, he had gone into a room that, dominated by an old-fashioned control panel, looked very much like an industrial museum – as if Habeck wanted to symbolically warn of the consequences that the Federal Constitutional Court's decision on the climate and transformation fund could have for the business location.

Matthias Alexander

Deputy Head of the Feuilleton.

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Above all, however, the viewers saw a man who is at the end of his tether. Habeck, who can otherwise formulate so precisely and look confident, seemed pale in the face and erratic in the development of thought. No wonder: Since the Karlsruhe ruling has deprived the traffic light coalition of its business basis for the time being, one crisis meeting is likely to chase the next.

However, the Green politician is getting himself into additional stress with his rather unfortunate performance. First, he had criticized the verdict itself. On Monday morning, in an interview with Deutschlandfunk, he attacked the CDU and its parliamentary group chairman Friedrich Merz, claiming that the Union had sued for people in Germany paying higher prices. For a politician who will foreseeably need the CDU very soon to free himself from the self-inflicted mess, this is not particularly clever behavior.

Before the "Tagesthemen", the three representatives of the traffic light coalition had not yet been able to show a way out of the crisis in Louis Klamroth's talk show. In the program entitled "The 60 billion rumble: Is the traffic light running out of coal?", SPD General Secretary Kevin Kühnert, Green parliamentary group chairwoman Katharina Dröge and Linda Teuteberg of the FDP rather repeated the positions that have prevailed in recent days as language regulations in the respective parties.

Kühnert and Dröge warned against cutting social benefits and reducing subsidies for the transformation of the economy towards climate neutrality. Teuteberg praised the fact that the ruling fortunately strengthened the debt brake and that other priorities now had to be set within the budget. And Serap Güler, a member of the Bundestag for the CDU, said that the volume of the federal budget of 445 billion euros was large enough to cope with the tasks ahead.

So, at the moment of the great crisis, opinions are sorted along the classic lines – here SPD and Greens, there CDU and FDP. It's just unfortunate that the result of the 2021 Bundestag election does not allow for a coalition within one camp, as Kühnert soberly noted. Which is why painful compromises have to be found. First with the FDP and then probably also with the CDU, could be added.

Kühnert without any left-wing folklore

Kühnert stood out among the politicians present because he was the only one else who showed the ability to abstract from his own position. It is remarkable how reserved, almost statesmanlike Kühnert was – the same Kühnert who, not so long ago, had attracted attention as chairman of the Juso with harsh demands for redistribution and other left-wing folklore. Although the SPD general secretary insisted that without the special funds there would not be enough money to cope with the tasks ahead, he avoided specifying how the additional income would be generated. The word of a tax increase did not pass his lips.

Kühnert achieved another small rhetorical masterpiece when he supported the wish of his party chairwoman Saskia Esken for an end to the debt brake, in order to strengthen the back of the chancellor, who is more skeptical in this respect, in the same sentence, who, even if he were in favor of such a step, would not yet have a majority for it. That is why it is right, Kühnert continued, that Olaf Scholz is holding back on proposals in the public debate and instead looking for a solution internally. If Scholz had only a tenth of Kühnert's oratorical talent, the country would be in a better position.