That it would be nothing with the much-vaunted, at least symbolic get-together in the times of Corona, is clear this Thursday in the House of Representatives shortly after ten. Parliament President Ralf Wieland (SPD) has just opened a session like never before. Only a little more than half of the deputies are in the room because of the distance requirement and no spectators except journalists.
When Wieland wished the Corona MPs Frank Zimmermann (SPD) and Martin Trefzer (AfD) all the best and applause from all parliamentary groups, the press heard a sentence from a dialogue between two members of the red-red-green coalition who, exceptionally, are sitting next door in the stands: “I only clapped for Frank Zimmermann.”
As head of government, Michael Muller may now make a good, if not very good speech in the following 35 minutes – one that appeals to reason as much as to feel. He would like to thank the opposition for supporting the several hundred million euro aid programs of its senate: it doesn’t help, there is no sign of unity.
Both sides have their share in this. There is about CDU parliamentary group leader Burkard Dregger. The day before, his faction criticized the main committee that the red-red-green coalition wanted to close the Tegel airport, which it did not love, not only temporarily but permanently, “in the slipstream of the corona crisis”.
Now, however, Dregger himself looks as if he wants to take the political profit out of the crisis – as did FDP parliamentary group leader Sebastian Czaja, who later called for a stop to the higher national minimum wage. Dreger offers support to the Senate, but in return, he has to forego “political projects that divide our city”.
For Dregger, this includes pre-emptive money for “completely overpriced property purchases” and the controversial Die e. G. to support. “Don’t be nervous,” comments Left Party MP Gabriele Gottwald from the stands. And SPD faction leader Raed Saleh counters: “Mr. Dregger, you disqualified yourself with this speech.”
AfD parliamentary group leader Georg Pazderski does not miss the chance to use the crisis for his own purposes: He would always wish for the “zero tolerance” he sees in dealing with corona rule-breakers, he says. And goes even further against the red-red-green coalition: “We have no time for socialist experiments, climate mania, and wider cycle paths.”
Carola Bluhm, the leader of the left-wing group, brings this to a sad interim conclusion of the debate: “The opposition has not yet been able to prove that the crisis can also be a chance for more common ground.”
Bluhm and her Greens colleague Silke Gebel stand up for the fact that the appreciation for the heroes of everyday life in Corona, who would later be celebrated by Muller, is still remembered in future wage negotiations. “That shouldn’t only be reflected in evening chants from the balcony,” says Gebel, “but should also be on the payslip.” No negative interjections are made with these words – at least that seems consensus.
In his speech, Prime Minister Muller distances himself from what he calls “war rhetoric” and ascribes to other heads of government – leaving it open whether he means Macron or German prime ministers. Yes, you are in an exceptional situation, “but we don’t live in any war or post-war circumstances,” he says, “if you don’t know the difference, you should ask your parents or grandparents.”
Muller warns of haste, first wants to see how previous measures work before there are more. He is convinced that measures work best if they are followed voluntarily. “I definitely want to avoid curfews,” says Muller, but does not rule them out: “There may be more measures that restrict us – but we will emerge stronger from the crisis.”
Muller praises those who are currently running the business – such as police officers, garbage disposal, daycare staff and the supermarket checkouts who are becoming a symbol of perseverance. Muller speaks of “silent heroines of the day” and promises them a bonus. He wants to pay this from the “Berlin allowance” of 150 euros per month for state employees, which was decided before Corona. Muller now wants to redistribute them.
It’s an endurance appeal, but without blood, sweat, and tears from the famous Churchill speech in 1940 in the face of the Nazi threat. Muller tries it differently, wants to strengthen perseverance through the joy of what is possible again after this great act of solidarity with older and weaker people. “Lovers will walk hand in hand again”, they will play volleyball again in the zoo. What he has in common with Churchill: when that is so far and the threat is over, he cannot say either.