German chancellor rejects claims he is set to resign
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has denied claims that he is considering stepping down amid plunging approval ratings. While acknowledging widespread concern about the economic situation in the country, the chancellor insisted that his policies have been mostly correct so far.
Earlier this month, Bild, citing a survey by the INSA polling institute, reported that public support for the chancellor had fallen to record lows. According to the media outlet, around 64% of respondents want Scholz to leave office before the end of his term. The majority believe that fellow Social Democrat Boris Pistorius, Germany's current defense minister, should replace him as chancellor.
In an interview with Die Zeit published on Wednesday, Scholz called the media allegations a “fairy tale.” Pressed further on whether he has considered the idea, the chancellor replied in the negative.
Though, Scholz conceded that there is much concern among the public at present – citing the fallout from the Ukraine conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic, among other things – he acknowledged that “unfortunately, important decisions have too rarely been made without protracted public quarrels.”
Yet, “the policy is right,” he insisted, referring to the general trajectory his coalition government has pursued so far.
Asked why most Germans seem to be unhappy with his cabinet, the chancellor argued that people are mostly worried about whether things will "[work] out well for them” as a result of the “biggest industrial modernization in more than 100 years” which the country is undergoing.
“It’s a journey whose end is still unpredictable,” he said.
Since mid-December, the country has been gripped by massive farmer protests regarding the government’s plans to cut back on agricultural sector subsidies, as it seeks ways to plug the €17 billion ($18.6 billion) deficit in the 2024 budget.
Faced with persistent opposition, Scholz’s government agreed not to abolish the preferential tax treatment for agricultural vehicles, and to postpone diesel tax break cuts until 2026.
However, the German Farmers’ Association has dismissed the concessions as inadequate, vowing to continue the protests.
Earlier this month, train drivers staged a large-scale strike (leading to the cancelation of around 80% of the long-distance services), demanding a reduction in working hours, as well as a wage increase, on top of a lump sum payment of €3,000 to compensate for inflation.