Letter from Berlin

By Dr Björn Weber, SEC Newgate Germany

The grey, damp November weather has Berlin firmly in its grip, which is not a bad thing, because it fits well with the general mood: after a reasonably relaxed summer, the pandemic has returned to the scene with a vengeance. Political mistakes, the avoidance of painful decisions against the backdrop of the Bundestag election campaign and a vaccination rate that remains too low have made it all too easy for it. In front of the now hastily established vaccination centres, long queues are forming, of people waiting for their booster vaccination or those who have perhaps now – after much hesitation – decided to take the vaccine after all.

Despite the gloom however, an almost cheerful – albeit reckless – fatalism is now making itself felt in some places. Since its probably only a matter of time until the next lockdown, many people are taking advantage of the last opportunities to distract themselves or to socialise – you never know when the next opportunity will present itself. In the evening, people follow the discussion on the news with great interest as to whether Germany – like Austria – will also decide to make vaccination compulsory. The constitutional concerns are great, but several well-known politicians are already showing sympathy for this solution.

Under the influence of the coronavirus situation, the SPD, the Greens, and the FDP have brought their coalition negotiations to a successful conclusion and presented their coalition agreement on 24 November. The CDU had previously narrowly lost the federal elections in September, after 16 years in power. The challenges facing the new government are enormous. In addition to the pandemic, it will have to deal with issues of climate change, migration, and European policy. Whether it has what it takes remains to be seen. In any case, the “team” is now set: the new Chancellor Olaf Scholz will be joined by Green Party leaders Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock as Economics Minister and Foreign Minister, respectively, and FDP leader Christian Lindner as Finance Minister, to name but a few.