Robert Habeck, Germany’s climate action and economic affairs minister, has turned on Chancellor Olaf Scholz amid an ongoing spending scandal.
The Green party official mocked Scholz during a prime-time interview on November 21 while being quizzed on Germany’s budgetary issues. Those arose after the country’s constitutional court ruled that the coalition Government’s use of COVID funds for climate projects was illegal.
Speaking on the subject, Habeck acknowledged that the Government now had the difficult task of filling a €60 billion gap in the country’s finances, a problem he insisted that the coalition parties would solve as a single unit.
"War das der explizite Wunsch der FDP, das genau so zu machen?"
"Per Definition entscheidet eine Regierung immer gemeinsam"
— Christian Wiesner (@ChristianHJW) November 21, 2023
Habeck went on to target Scholz later in the interview, taking a jab at the German leader after being asked what his personal view was on declaring a state of emergency in the country to free-up funds to fill the gap.
“I don’t want to quote the Chancellor now but, ‘I can’t remember’,” the minister said with a wry smile.
The response appeared to be a reference to a statement given by Scholz regarding a tax fraud scandal that has gripped his chancellorship over the past year. The German leader had previously claimed he had “no memory” of meetings he allegedly had with some of those involved in the affair.
Such a reference was not lost on the panel, prompting laughter and a few spluttered words from Habeck’s interviewer.
In the midst of a severe fiscal crisis, the German Government has imposed a moratorium on virtually all new expenditure. https://t.co/lE0gUpHJoP
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) November 21, 2023
Habeck’s poke at the Chancellor appears to indicate a growing level of unrest within the German Government.
Media outlets in the country have noted in particular that the Green minister was one of the few members of the coalition to warn about the possible constitutional court ruling ahead of time. He openly spoke about the potential that the Government was illegally using COVID funds as early as June this year.
Some in Germany have speculated that the spending gap could end up sinking the Government, although so far ministers have tried to play that down.
The ideological gaps between the Green party and the more libertarian-leaning Democratic Free party (FDP) appear to be growing. Habeck’s group is keen on keeping spending high while the FDP is pushing for a more conservative budget.
Stuck in the middle is Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), which has seen its popularity wane to the point it has now been overtaken by both the Christian Democrats and the populist Alternative für Deutschland party.
German citizens face a severe spike in their electricity bills this winter after a ruling by the country’s Federal Constitutional Court. https://t.co/TupUCWPfXE
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) November 20, 2023