This triell was like black bread: down-to-earth, largely humorless, very, very German, but still healthy and filling. It was the best of the three trials.
First of all, it was due to the issues. Sure, foreign policy was missing again, Europe was missing. Only here and there did the candidates dutifully declare that this or that had to be “solved at European level”. But it was about topics that affect a lot of people in Germany and above all about topics that affect the weaker: low wage earners, single mothers, children, especially children of Hartz IV recipients, carers, people who live in the countryside, without a fast network.
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Olaf Scholz once again settled on a minimum wage of 12 euros, Armin Laschet got tangled up in his reasoning why he didn’t want it, Annalena Baerbock had ample opportunity to bring in her campaign hit, basic child benefits (you can read the most important political statements here in read our blog).
Second, the fact that it was the best triall so far was due to the fact that it was objective.
The trial was pleasantly matter-of-fact
In the second public service duel a week ago, Armin Laschet had dogged himself like a wild terrier in Scholz Wade for almost ten valuable minutes and made a great mess of various allegations – from the Hamburg Cum-Ex scandal to the investigations against the Money Laundering Tracking Unit (FIU) subordinate to the Ministry of Finance. Allegations that no normal viewer could understand in this brief (read our fact check here).
This time Laschet pretended to be more of a state, chancellor: No personal attacks, only once did he attempt to allude through gangs to the failures in the pursuit of money laundering that Scholz is accused of. On Monday the finance minister has to answer in the Bundestag and Laschet asked Baerbock what he would have to say. Except for this little nickiness, it remained proud, Rhenish-cozy and civil.
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Annalena Baerbock alone was aggressive. The Greens seem to be aware – as was already evident in the second duel – that it is most likely no longer about the candidacy for chancellor. Baerbock appeared liberated, authentic and combative – although the viewers only chose her in third place in the lightning poll, behind Scholz on one and Laschet on two.
Claudia von Brauchitsch and Linda Zervakis conducted the evening with confidence and rigor
The third reason was the two moderators. Claudia von Brauchitsch and Linda Zervakis led the evening through the evening in a sovereign, stringent and impartial manner, unlike the public service Triell, when Maybrit Illner and Oliver Stöhr stood in each other’s way far too often and missed many opportunities.
So it was a win for the audience – but also for the candidates? Can Laschet still manage the turnaround with this triad that the CDU and CSU have been trying to persuade for a week? Was that a good start to last week for the man with the most to lose next Sunday?
The viewers of Sat1 / Pro7 at least don’t see it that way.
The SPD and the Greens formed a kind of cuddle phalanx against Laschet
But the SPD and the Greens shouldn’t rejoice too early – and not just because of the general questionable nature of lightning polls. The focus on social policy in this third and final TV triall could have a distorting effect. Laschet was also particularly badly off because on many topics he had both Scholz and Baerbock as a kind of red-green cuddly halanx against him (representatives of both parties also demonstratively clinked after the duel and stood together).
There are actually also many topics on which the SPD and the Greens disagree, be it an earlier coal phase-out, Russia policy or an end date for the internal combustion engine (the SPD electoral program is wisely silent on the latter). None of this was discussed.
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So Laschet had to try alone to explain why he did not consider a wealth tax to be the right one, and certainly not a minimum wage. His attempts to explain were all the cooler because in the broadcasters’ clips, people told of their lives and aroused sympathy who did not belong to the traditional CDU clientele, such as a single mother who has two jobs to support herself and her daughter. After such a video, to explain that the best protection against poverty is to create growth and jobs seemed very heartless.
Laschet looks cool
Conversely, there were no questions that would have been favorable to Laschet, for example the question of financing the socio-ecological restructuring of society, which Baerbock regularly gets into swimming and which allows Laschet to present the CDU as a party of solid state finances.
This topic, as well as the fear of the other middle of society (the many family businesses, for example, which fear an inheritance and wealth tax), hardly came up – and probably also do not count as often among the Sat1 / Pro7 viewers who vote were allowed to. They will vote anyway.
So even this successful black bread duel remains just a quick sandwich on the way to the big day of truth, the election day next Sunday.