EEverything was well prepared. At the ferry terminal in Schlüttsiel, the “MS Seeadler” was ready with her captain Heini von Holdt Markus Söder to take on board with his entourage. In the small town of Tönning on the Eiderstedt peninsula, the hotel beds for the Bavarians were already made. In the protection station at the Westerhever lighthouse and in the Multimar forum, the experts were ready to explain the wonders of the tidal flats to the CSU star.
Daniel Günther, Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister, had also prepared well: He wanted to discuss the complex personnel situation of the Union with Söder on this Thursday evening in a one-on-one conversation. About a new way to answer the tiresome questions about CDU chairmanship and Union candidate for chancellor. And then everything was brand new again, all plans obsolete – and one more hope of the Union was struck.
“Error in Corona-Testzentren“, Söder tweeted on Wednesday evening at 7:21 pm,” that is very, very annoying “- and canceled the visit to the north of the republic that had been meticulously prepared for weeks by the state chancelleries in Kiel and Munich. Then he sent his health minister Melanie Huml (CSU) to the media front to explain what actually cannot be explained.
More than 44,000 people tested at Bavaria’s borders in the past few weeks have not yet been informed of their results. Even 900 people infected with the virus do not yet know anything about their findings. The faint hope that Huml spread with her formulation that those affected would still “wait” for their result is likely to be deceptive. Because probably very few of those affected have spent this waiting period, some of them weeks, in quarantine. A debacle in the fight against the pandemic, which has so far been so successful in this country.
“Government failure” and “desolate record”
The criticism – not only from the Bavarian opposition – did not make the wait long. The Greens, SPD and FDP in the Bavarian state parliament accused Söder’s cabinet of “blatant government failure” and attested the state cabinet’s corona management a “desolate record”. In Berlin, the Greens and the FDP immediately attacked the Bavarian Prime Minister, who had previously appeared so confidently in the Corona crisis.
“Not informing 900 positive Corona-testers is bodily harm to those who infect them”, tweeted the deputy FDP parliamentary group leader Alexander Graf Lambsdorff and added: “Where is Söder? Otherwise always ahead, he now sends his Minister of Health. Embarrassing.”
Lambsdorff’s FDP parliamentary group colleague Konstantin Kuhle accused Söder of having “overran” himself with his rushing ahead in terms of tests.
In fact, Markus Söder did what his people expected of him in July. He pushed the pace when it came to border tests – apparently without his country or its authorities being adequately prepared. According to Melanie Huml, voluntary organizations without sufficient data processing capabilities were initially busy with the tests at the borders, and only gradually did “professional service providers” take on tasks. The test data were previously recorded “manually”. This would have resulted in enormous backlogs. Result: Söder, the Bavarian state government could not keep what it had promised. Fast, efficient, pandemic-containment testing.
Massive criticism of the test offensive as early as June
Söder had already provoked some harsh criticism with his offensive test policy at the end of June. For example, World Medical President Frank Ulrich Montgomery criticized the Bavarian Prime Minister’s promise to provide free mass tests for everyone. These are merely “snapshots of the state of the back throat wall of Bavaria”. The effort that has to be put into the tests is “out of proportion to the costs” that they cause.
Nevertheless, Söder only announced a massive expansion of the corona test capacities in Bavaria two days ago. By the end of August, he wants to be able to have 200,000 tested for the virus every day instead of the current 55,000. For this purpose, test centers are to be set up in all rural districts and urban districts of the country, as they already exist at borders and airports.
In the past few months, Söder had already looked like the big political winner of the corona pandemic. With his determined, often very well marketed approach, the CSU boss rose to the most popular politician after Angela Merkel (CDU) in surveys. Also the Chancellor candidate-Rankings he now leads.
Not only in the south of the republic, but also in Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, leading Christian Democrats and Christian Socialists had already got used to the idea of going into the federal election campaign with Söder at the top next year. The visit to the mudflats could have provided suitable pictures for this.
Instead, the cancellation of the Söder visit once again illustrates the personnel problem into which the corona crisis has forced the Union.
The North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet, initially favored as the new CDU party leader, had lost his favorite role due to his corona crisis management, which was not always successful, at least in public perception. Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen more or less disappeared in pandemic times due to a lack of executive tasks. You are currently not seriously considered as a CDU leader or as a possible candidate for chancellor of the Union.
Many Christian Democrats are now favoring a solution in which Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn – who is currently the second man in the team with Laschet – is promoted to CDU chairman and Söder to candidate for chancellor.
Both have ambitions, but have not yet published them. In this respect, the Union is now leading the way on both fronts. Even the unthinkable of moving the incumbent party leadership to the Uckermark in a joint procession in order to urge Merkel to continue, is being voiced again behind the scenes, at least in a low voice.
Daniel Günther, Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister, clearly described the problem that the corona crisis posed for the Union on the evening before Söder’s visit to Markus Lanz’s talk show. With a view to the postponed election of a new CDU party chairman after the outbreak of the pandemic, Günther suggested on the show that the race, in which Laschet, Röttgen, Merz and indirectly, as Laschet vice, including Spahn, have participated, prematurely .
According to Günther, his party must ask himself “whether a party is well advised to have a long debate on personnel policy in times like these”. The four potential candidates should now sit down and find a common solution.
What such a solution could look like, whether he could imagine, for example, with Spahn as CDU leader and Söder as candidate for chancellor Bundestag election campaign Günther left open despite multiple requests from the moderator. A wise decision, as it became apparent shortly after the recording and the tweet from the CSU boss. “Bavaria goes first,” wrote Söder. It is quite possible that it will stay that way in the long run.
After all: Günther’s State Chancellery announced on Thursday that Söder’s visit to the Watt should definitely be made up for. When exactly is still open. The “MS Seeadler” will then be ready again.