Dhe poor performance of the SPD in the regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the war in Ukraine and the consequences of the energy crisis were the subjects of “Maischberger”. TV presenter Günther Jauch, ARD capital studio director Tina Hassel and FAZ parliamentary correspondent Helene Bubrowski discussed the NRW elections in the studio.
Former Ambassador and Head of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, shared his assessment of the current situation in the war in Ukraine. Klaus Müller, head of the Federal Network Agency, explained a possible scenario in the event of a gas embargo and called on all gas users to act now. Ifor Volobuyev, former deputy director of Gazprombank, was supposed to be connected – but the connection did not happen during the show.
The SPD’s historically poor performance in the most populous federal state is also rumored for the Chancellor, said Günther Jauch. “Scholz leaned far out of the window during the election campaign. It was on one in two SPD election posters. For many years, NRW was the homeland of social democrats, said FAZ journalist Helene Bubrowski. “Scholz can’t just slip away now.”
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht also harmed the party, ARD journalist Tina Hassel said. The helicopter affair “was just the icing on the cake, reinforcing the impression of a woman who has no sense of performance and who doesn’t really care about the troupe”.
Brubowski pointed out that Lambrecht had already drawn negative attention as federal justice minister under Angela Merkel. She provided SPD comrades with high positions in the ministry. Even among officials, she does not have a good reputation.
“In the meantime, she has only become Minister of Self-Defense,” said Günther Jauch. So Christine Lambrecht resigns? “That would be an idea, but politicians usually struggle with that,” Jauch said.
“It would look too hectic and it’s not the Scholz method”
Tina Hassel does not believe for the moment in another change in the ministries, as was the case recently with Anne Spiegel. “That would look too hectic and that’s not Scholz’s way.” The Chancellor did not let himself be carried away. “Then he stays rather stubborn. Maybe too long,” Hassel said.
The CDU had won the elections in North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the regional elections in Schleswig-Holstein. Has party leader Friedrich Merz put the Christian Democrats back on the path to success? “Anyone who wins two state elections in eight days can rightly tweet: CDU is back,” Hassel said.
Nevertheless, the Merz method was questioned because the winners of the elections in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein pursued completely different political strategies from those of Friedrich Merz. According to Günther Jauch, he felt a “slight bitterness” watching the NRW elections and Ukraine.
Voter turnout in NRW was historically low at 55.5%. “People in Ukraine crave democracy and risk their lives for it. And with us, people just stay at home and throw the basic democratic right in the trash, ”said the TV presenter.
The war in Ukraine has been going on for twelve weeks. Security expert Wolfgang Ischinger is skeptical of a quick end to the fighting. Although Russia was unable to achieve its original war aims, “the majority of Ukraine is free.” But now it is mainly a “war of position”, a “war of attrition”. It could take a long time.
“Therefore, the goal must now be: continue to prevent the implementation of Russian goals. And help Ukraine successfully defend its borders and its existence,” said Ischinger, who chaired the Munich Conference on security – perhaps the world’s most renowned meeting on foreign and security policy – from 2008 to 2022.
“No Russian has to fear NATO crossing the Finnish border”
Ischinger thinks that the planned entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO could even stabilize the situation. “No Russian has to worry about NATO crossing the Finnish border,” he said. After all, NATO is a defensive alliance.
In addition, Ukraine’s admission to NATO should be considered. Ischinger: “After what the Russians have done now, we should say: now we really integrate Ukraine into NATO. Without NATO membership, security guarantees would not be credible, he said. “After all these horrific events, who is going to give this country the security guarantees it needs if ever peace is made?”
The war of Russian aggression has drawn much of the Western world into crisis. Germany remains dependent on Russian supplies, particularly for natural gas. What happens if Russia closes the gas tap or if Germany decides on a gas embargo? What happens in the event of a “gas emergency”?
“Now Russian gas is a problem”
“I have a lot of worry lines on my forehead,” said Klaus Müller, director of the Federal Network Agency. The federal authority reports to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and is responsible for regulating the electricity and gas market, for example. 30 million private households and many branches of industry in Germany depend on natural gas for heating.
It is true that Germany has a relatively large gas storage capacity, and these storage facilities are currently 42% full. But: “It’s not good and reassuring,” said Müller, a green politician and former environment minister of Schleswig-Holstein. “Now Russian gas is a problem and can drop to zero, so storage tanks need to be filled.”
If an emergency arises and the security of supply is threatened, then a European regulation regulates: private households, hospitals, the police and retirement homes are among the groups particularly worthy of protection and must not be extinguished. The Federal Network Agency is currently in talks with 2,500 companies, which account for the majority of industrial gas consumption, Müller said. They are used to see where cuts should be made if there was a gas emergency.
The federal government wants climate protection, he said. “But due to the current situation because of the Russian aggression war, we are forced to take a detour.” This leads “for a limited time via liquid gas.” For example, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck negotiated an agreement with Qatar on liquid gas. The gas is not delivered via pipelines but by ships.
In addition, each citizen must ask themselves through “solidarity ideas” how they can reduce their gas consumption, said Müller. Of course, it can’t dictate how often someone can shower with gas-heated water. The dilemma is that people have to notice something first to change their consumption. “Most people know where the price of gas is. But very few people know where the price of gas is today,” Müller said.
One thing is clear: “If they have gas heating, then their heating bills will be extremely expensive.” In the months following the start of the war, there was still no visible action among the population, Müller said. “So far we haven’t been able to see that people are already going without it and that less gas is being used.”