After announcing the tightening of health rules at Easter, a decision criticized from all sides, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted this Wednesday a personal “mistake” and asked “forgiveness” for trying to impose these closures to shops and religious services.
The third epidemic wave affecting Germany turns to the Stations of the Cross for the Chancellor, whose party is in free fall in the polls, to the point of reshuffling the cards six months before the elections which will mark the end of her 16 years at the helm of Germany.
A “not feasible” scenario
In a solemn address called at short notice on Wednesday, the Chancellor engaged in a mea culpa. “An error must be recognized as such and above all, it must be corrected,” said Angela Merkel. “This error is only mine,” admitted the Chancellor, asking “forgiveness from the Germans”, before going to the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, for a question-and-answer session which promised to be tense. This “break” had, according to her, “good reasons for being but was not achievable in a short period of time”.
Angela Merkel had previously, to everyone’s surprise, urgently called a new crisis meeting with the 16 regional states, just two days after an anti-Covid summit which crystallized all the discontent. It was finally decided to abandon the main decision taken after 12 hours of discussions: to put the country under cover for the long Easter weekend with the closure of all shops, and with religious services organized by videoconference. After a legal review by various ministries, many problems had arisen in the organization of this “break”, explained the president of the conservative party CDU, Armin Laschet.
A “new epidemic” due to the British variant
“The situation is serious, very serious”, had warned the Chancellor at the end of Monday’s summit. “The number of cases is increasing exponentially and intensive care beds are filling up again,” Angela Merkel said, her face drawn, during a press conference held in the middle of the night. Germany, where the incidence rate exceeds the 100 mark, with 108.1 on Wednesday, crossed the threshold of 75,000 deaths due to Covid-19 and the coming weeks do not look more favorable despite the restrictions.
The British variant has indeed caused a “new epidemic”, according to Angela Merkel, which threatens to saturate the resuscitation services In addition to the extension of the current restrictions until April 18, including a strict limitation of private meetings, this summit had also resulted on the nationwide ban on holiday rentals at Easter. Deemed insufficient by scientists, the “break” planned for Easter from April 1 to 5 was criticized from all sides, associations of traders fearing its economic consequences for Christians deprived of Easter mass “face-to-face”.
The polls worry
Transforming Thursday April 1, a working day, into a public holiday also created difficulties in the organization of working time, noted several organizations and elected officials. Irritation has spread through the ranks of the government. The Minister of the Interior, the Bavarian conservative Horst Seehofer, said he was “astonished that, of all the parties, those whose names include a C (for Christian) suggest that churches refrain from celebrating services, especially at Easter ”. The revolt is also rumbling in the ranks of conservative CDU-CSU deputies, worried about their possible re-election in the September 26 ballot.
These criticisms translate into alarming polls for the conservative CDU-CSU camp, to which victory in the September elections was still promised a few weeks ago but which has since been spattered by scandals over the purchase of masks involving several of its members. members. Wednesday, a poll gave the conservative camp at 26%, against ten points more at the beginning of the year. The CDU-CSU is in this poll followed by the Greens, credited with 22% of the voting intentions, according to this survey carried out for the NTV news channel.