The Christian Democratic candidate for chancellor in the September general election is the outgoing Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Armin Laschet. He succeeds Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union, CDU), who has been the main candidate of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) in the last four federal elections and leads the country as as Chancellor since 2005.
The decision was preceded by a days-long power struggle between Laschet and Markus Söder, the right-wing conservative Bavarian prime minister and leader of the CSU. Söder, who justified his contention for the candidacy by indicating a higher popularity rating among voters and within the Union (CDU / CSU), ultimately bowed to the decision of the CDU executive.
Before the decisive vote on Monday evening, a whole series of notoriously right-wing figures, including Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble and former parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz, campaigned for Laschet.
In his first statements and interviews after the selection of candidates, Laschet left no doubt that as chancellor he would continue and intensify the anti-worker and militarist course of the grand coalition of Christian Democrats and Socialists. -democrats (SPD). This is especially true of the murderous “profit before life” policy in the pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of more than 80,000 people in Germany alone.
Addressing the ARD program “Farbe bekennen” (Show your colors) on Tuesday evening, Laschet defended the ruthless policy of opening up the economy in the interests of business, which has once again led to a massive increase in the economy. number of infections and deaths in recent weeks. “My line was very simple and it still applies today. When the incidence numbers go down, you have to reduce the infringements on fundamental rights, ”he said. This had also been his “position last spring”.
Even then, the Laschet-led state government of NRW, in coalition with the Free Democratic Party (FDP), had ensured the dangerous return to businesses and schools, consciously calculating the loss of human life. There will be “school communities that will have to mourn the deaths of teachers, school administrators or family members, which can sometimes have a lasting impact on school life and day-to-day school life,” the said. NRW State Minister of Education, Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) in April 2020.
Laschet himself defends the murderous policy of herd immunity more than any other German prime minister. He has repeatedly called for an early end to all coronavirus measures. Most recently, he welcomed the decision to reverse the so-called “Easter truce” originally announced by the federal and state governments. It was necessary to get out of the “permanent cycle of locking” and “now open a new chapter”, he explained. “The pure shutdown” had “come to an end” and his state government was to launch temporary projects “perhaps soon after Easter”.
During his first press conference as a candidate for chancellor on Tuesday, Laschet spoke openly about the interests behind the aggressive reopening policy: “We have big budgetary challenges after the pandemic.” He said one of them “is currently mitigating many challenges by going into debt. But sustainability means paying it back after the crisis, also for the benefit of future generations. There must not be any more “like”.
It is unequivocal. The gigantic sums that have poured into the accounts of big business and the super-rich under emergency aid programs against the coronavirus must be recovered from the working class through severe social cuts and attacks on jobs and wages. And not just in Germany, but, as happened after the economic and financial crisis of 2008-2009, all over Europe. “We know that we will not be strong in Germany if Europe is not strong,” said Laschet. “And therefore, our neighbors will also face great challenges after the pandemic, and we will also only be able to respond to them together as Europeans.”
The herd immunity policy and the social attacks in the country go hand in hand with Laschet’s call for a more aggressive German-European foreign policy. “Our contribution as Europe must become more offensive in a world of authoritarian social models. We must fight for our values of freedom, solidarity and justice, human dignity in this world ”, he declared during the press conference.
Previously, he had already positioned himself as a hard line in an in-depth foreign policy interview. Speaking with the chief correspondent of the Reuters news agency in Berlin, Andreas Rinke, in an interview which appeared under the headline: “I am a realpolitik politician ”in the current issue of Internationale Politik magazine, he refused to be portrayed as a “Russian appeaser” and called China a “geostrategic challenge”. At the center is the demand for a massive arms offensive to assert the interests of German and European imperialism around the world – even independently of the United States.
“If you want a common European security policy, you must also produce the defense assets together,” said Laschet. “If you want to speak the language of power, you also need the instruments of power.” Therefore, he said, “achieving NATO’s 2% target is not an American imposition but in our best interests. We need to improve our own capabilities. “
By this, Laschet signifies the acquisition of the deadliest weapon systems, with the stated purpose of waging war. For example, the “European drone project”, which he “advocated within the coalition committee”, was a “European flagship project which represents the European capacity to act”.
When asked whether Germany should “get more involved in foreign missions,” Laschet responded with an explicit defense of Germany’s war policy. The “mission with the French” in Mali, for example, was in “the German and European interest”. And if “the continued presence is necessary” in Afghanistan, where German troops have been stationed for two decades now, “the Bundeswehr will remain”.
When Laschet criticizes imperialist war policy, he does so from the right. In Libya, he was “in favor of an intervention at the time for humanitarian reasons”, but “admits that the situation has not improved significantly since”.
Laschet’s conclusion is not to end the deadly wars that have claimed the lives of millions of people and reduced entire countries to rubble in recent years, but to make them more effective: not only need a mandate under international law, they also need to be thought through strategically. Too many interventions aimed at “regime change” have failed over the past 20 years, in part because too little thought has been given to the challenge of the period that followed. “
To develop a German-European war capability, Laschet advocates close cooperation with France. With the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, “many suggestions” from French President Emmanuel Macron “would already be taken up and completed by German proposals, such as cooperation in the field of arms supply, artificial intelligence, foreign policy or battery production ”.
The question of a “common army” could also “certainly be a long-term prospect”. However, “first of all, we need to make sure that Europe acts together on security. We need to strengthen PUC [Permanent Structured Cooperation, part of the EU security and defence policy] and move forward with joint projects. “
Significantly, in the Internationale Politik interview, Laschet advocated a possible “consensus” with the Greens precisely on foreign and defense policy. During the CDU-FDP-Green exploratory talks in 2017, they “went very far” in the areas of foreign policy. He reminded those who were skeptical about cooperation with the Greens “the Bundestag elections in 1998: at that time, it was also said that foreign policy, in particular, would make an alliance with the Greens difficult. And then the public experienced that the first German war mission since 1945, with the bombing of Belgrade, took place under an SPD-Green government of all things.
The policies of militarism, social attacks and collective immunity are supported by the left parties nominally in the Bundestag. The SPD candidate for chancellor and current Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz, increased the military budget just a few weeks ago by an additional five percent, to almost 50 billion euros. And with Annelena Baerbock, the Greens also chose an outspoken militarist as their candidate for chancellor on Monday.
The Left Party has also made it clear that it will fully support this reactionary course within the framework of a possible SPD-Left Party-Greens government coalition at the federal level. In interviews, the new party leaders Susanne Hennig-Wellsow and Janine Wissler expressed their support for the Bundeswehr’s foreign deployments. At the state level, the Left Party is already putting into practice the policy of “profit before life” with the parties of social cuts and war, the SPD and the Greens.
In the “Farbe bekennen” program, Laschet said that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) should have no “influence on the shaping of German policy”. However, after the 2017 federal election, all establishment parties increasingly embraced the far-right agenda and integrated the AfD into the political system. Laschet himself has engaged in xenophobic agitation during the pandemic. When massive infections occurred at the slaughterhouses of meat billionaire Clemens Tönnies last year, he did not criticize the slave-like working conditions, but instead claimed that “Romanians and Bulgarians” had introduced the virus from their country of origin.
The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, SGP) is the only party to oppose the shift to fascism, war and dictatorship of the ruling class, and to arm the growing social and political opposition of workers and young people with an international socialist program. “Life does not profit!”, “Defend all jobs!”, “Stop militarism!”, “Never again fascism!” and “For the United Socialist States of Europe!” are the central demands of the SGP’s electoral program.