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Corona virus: Top talk between federal and state governments – struggle of crisis managers


At the weekend, the Germans apparently passed a kind of stress test. At least that's how the chancellor's statements on Sunday evening should be understood. It is a great encouragement to see that millions and millions of people are doing without joint care for the vulnerable, said Angela Merkel.

The stress test: These were the empty playgrounds, the empty streets and marketplaces, all of which has contributed to Merkel not speaking out on the curfew on Sunday evening. Instead, "reducing contacts" is now the order of the day. And the joint action of all states and the federal government. New restrictions for at least two weeks, because after the federal states had given themselves different rules in the past few days, for example, a maximum of six people were allowed to gather in Hamburg, three in Baden-Württemberg and three in Rhineland-Palatinate five, one rule now applies to everyone.

The Chancellor and Prime Minister agreed on this procedure in a conference call on Sunday: A maximum of two people who do not live in a common household may be together in public space, and at least one and a half meters must be kept apart, with the exception of families and flatmates who continue to work together The measures should apply for at least two weeks (read details here). Sounds like an exit restriction. But it shouldn't be called that. There was a lot of discussion about the right term in the telephone desk. Two philosophies emerged of how to teach people the right behavior.

There are the champions of the so-called exit restrictions. They rely on the educational effect: you must not leave the house for no reason, only for this and that purpose. Saarland and Bavaria in particular see it that way and have already put curfews in place. Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt also make similar arguments, while others, such as Thuringia, consider concrete measures to be the better way. For example, assembly bans that are not called "exit restrictions", but prevent contact. The goal is the same. SPD prime ministers had already discussed in their own booth and wanted to avoid the term curfew – out of fear of protests in the big cities and further uncertainty among the population. It is also about tough power politics. The mood in the phone booth was confrontational. Participants report that the way of strict handling favored by CSU boss Markus Söder could not be done with the Chancellor and several other federal states.

Some Eastern countries also argued with their historical bias on restricting civil rights. Baden-Württemberg also prefers to signal to people that they can go outside and are not locked up at home.

And then the Prime Ministers of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria clashed: Armin Laschet and Söder. It became clear that it is not just about the best possible crisis management, but also about tough power politics – especially in the Union.Söder likes the role of the top crisis manager, while Laschet, who wants to become the CDU leader, works in the corona crisis for days like a driven man. His actions are also criticized in the CDU as too harmless, the North Rhine-Westphalian economy is restless (read more about the difficult crisis management here) On Sunday, eleven other federal states received a paper with new measures, including a ban on meetings of five or more and many other detailed regulations, such as for funerals, DIY and garden centers and fines. I'm still there, should that mean. At the end of the day, not much was left of the paper, the Chancellor had a sober nine-point plan, the focus of which is the ban on contacts from two people. At CSU, the course of Sunday is seen as Laschet's defeat. The Chancellor cleared the proposals from Laschet and the other prime ministers, according to Munich. In the end, the agreement was practically based entirely on the Bavarian regulations. The Christian Socialists record the advancement of Laschet under "Rulership". Slowly the question arises, "Is it more about his personal ambitions than about corona crisis management?" Says the CSU. Laschet looks highly nervous. Two temperaments meet: here Söder, the driver, there Laschet, the cautious. And yet the sentences from Bavaria are remarkable, after all, Söder is now obviously taking the risk of damaging Laschet.Until now, the Bavarian Prime Minister had at best only indirectly engaged in the CDU power struggle and given interviews that suggested that he preferred Laschet rather than Friedrich Merz than The next party chairman, but the CSU leader no longer pays any attention to Laschet, who in turn looks extremely nervous. Laschet knows that if he appears to be weak in the corona crisis, his chances of becoming party leader will wane, and he was one of the first to make the decisions public on Sunday afternoon. And shortly after the switch he went to the press – before the Chancellor. This time he didn't want to give Söder the go-ahead, but instead finally wanted to do it himself. Will it benefit him?

The Mayor of Bremen Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) warned to close after the phone switch, but at the same time he targeted Söder. Bovenschulte summarized the meeting as saying that all countries are fairly close to one another with measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, some tried to "fight for words". The advances strongly condemned Bovenschule. "Verbal radicalism unsettles people more than it gives them security," said the Mayor of Bremen to SPIEGEL. On Sunday evening, it was said from Munich that Bavaria would not take over the agreed ban on gathering for more than two people, but would stick to the tougher Bavarian rule : Outdoor gatherings with family and household members only, what's next? Thuringia's Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow says that it depends on whether people understand what it's about. "It was quiet at the weekend. But I'm not excluding the Bavarian route," Ramelow told SPIEGEL.
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