Status: 02.17.2021 02:17 a.m.
Overcrowded beer tents, hearty tones – that’s Political Ash Wednesday. And this year? Sterile digital instead of close to the body. How are Laschet, Söder and Co doing? Political scientist Münch explains in an interview what is important.
tagesschau.de: Traditionally, Political Ash Wednesday is quite rough in some beer tents. But in Corona times that is not possible. Digital instead of beer tent – can that work?
Ursula Münch: It will be difficult and a rather sterile affair. No mood can build itself up. The refore the words will have to be weighed more carefully. In this respect, you will think from the outset which sharpening you can place and which you can do without, because you cannot justify them with a heated atmosphere in the room.
tagesschau.de: Ash Wednesday is something of a mood barometer for the super election year …
Münch: … and also an opportunity for top politicians to see what the mood feels like at the grassroots level. This time this function is completely eliminated. Good speakers adapt to the audience, they also have to be able to speak freely – adjust to the mood, applause, murmur or even the lack of interest in the audience. If you are wrong in a face-to-face event, you get the astonished faces, the disinterest and the anger and you can take it up.
Prof. Ursula Münch has been director of the Academy for Political Education in Tutzing since 2011. She conducts research on the German political landscape and was until recently a member of the Science Council, which advises the federal government on issues relating to the content and structural development of universities, science and research.
tagesschau.de: Can there be tension at all in such a digital Ash Wednesday format?
Münch: Yes, although curiosity will focus more on the format and a little less on the content. Everyone is interested in how they master it – and how differently a Ms. Baerbock acts compared to a Mr. Söder. Or Mr. Laschet to Mr. Scholz. How do the parties deal with what many office workers have had to do for a year – namely talking into a camera?
“A tightrope walk”
tagesschau.de: At the end of the carnival there is blasphemy and exaggeration – is this current existential corona crisis good for such tones?
Münch: It’s sure to be a tightrope walk. On the one hand, the topic of the corona pandemic is too serious – on the other hand, the measures against corona can of course already be discussed. That some want to loosen up for the devil and others don’t. At the same time, you have other mined areas: for example Söder, who of course knows that the demarcation from the AfD must also succeed on Ash Wednesday. That would also have been the task of the Ash Wednesday in attendance, not to create any proximity to the AfD’s vocabulary.
And I assume that Armin Laschet has great respect for the task. He knows under which circumstances he can speak at the CSU, which is at least as difficult to cope with as his introductory speech at the CDU’s digital party congress.
Münch: Because it will basically now be about making it clear to the party, both internally and externally, that the CSU will also get it. We know that the CDU’s decision to run for chancellor and CSU is clarified together.
CSU offer with a deep meaning
tagesschau.de: In this context, how do you interpret the invitation from the CSU to Laschet to hold a greeting?
Münch: This is an offer with a deep meaning. A friendly gesture, but it can turn into its opposite. If Laschet had a bad reception at the CSU Ash Wednesday, he would have a block in the competition between the two sister parties for the candidacy.
In this respect, it is a test for him whether the CSU really trusts him to lead such an election campaign this year. It will be a predominantly digital election campaign.
tagesschau.de: Do you see a loss of campaign culture as a result?
Münch: Of course a lot is lost. We miss the events that people consciously go to, but also the more informal face-to-face events: Where you happen to come by and listen – a chance to win new voices. This chance encounter is missing. Election campaigns have also been shaped by it so far. Now, as a voter, I have to consciously seek out politics, for example join a video conference.
Münch: That was an original advantage of the AfD. It is the youngest party to sit in parliaments – founded in 2013, when there were already all the digital networks that it has cleverly used. But since Corona and the need to go more into digital networks and platforms, most parties have rapidly caught up.
“Not always just criticism”
tagesschau.de: Does a more digital election campaign pose greater dangers that actors manipulate themselves?
Münch: I’m afraid of that. You get attention by always putting something on top. The re is a demand for this in a part of society that does not see through it and may believe the lies. But: Around eighty percent of the population reject the hatred and denigration.
tagesschau.de: If the crisis management of the pandemic becomes an election campaign issue – does the AfD have an advantage here because it is not involved in any government? The easiest way to rage against the corona policy is anyone who bears no responsibility anywhere …
Münch: People don’t just want to hear criticism, they also want suggestions on how to do it differently.
Münch: Yes, but it won’t get caught. For a clear majority in this country, the corona measures do not even go far enough. In this time of the pandemic, politics has become something that saves lives – and is largely perceived as such. The AfD has no sensible concept for this; it has not benefited significantly from the pandemic so far. And the FDP then represents the concerns of a Freedom Party less unsavory.