Three days before the German parliamentary elections, the list pullers went into debate on television one last time. In an hour and a half confrontation, themes such as social housing, Europe and Germanys role on the world stage were covered; topics that had not been addressed in earlier debates.
For the first time, the list pullers were invited from all seven parties in the Bundestag. In previous TV debates, only the leaders of the biggest contenders were allowed to take office: CDU/CSU, SPD and Die Grünen.
FDP and Die Linke
Political experts watched Christian Lindner of the liberal FDP with interest tonight and Janine Wissler of the socialist Linke. Both small parties could play a key role if a third party appears to be necessary for a majority coalition after the election.
Lindner clearly joined the Union, the covenant of the Christian Democratic parties CDU and CSU on the issues of housing and climate. According to Lindner, the business community is perfectly capable of making it more sustainable with innovative techniques and meeting climate goals. He criticized Annalena Baerbock of Die Grünen, who, in his view, wants to enforce climate neutrality with bans, tax increases and additional public debt.
Linke leader Wissler applied for a spot in a red-red-green government with SPD and Die Grünen, among other things by pushing for a fair housing market. Wissler spoke out for a nationwide ceiling for rent prices and the expropriation of stone-rich housing corporations such as Deutsche Wohnen. SPD list puller Scholz, however, let himself feel that he is not in favour of expropriation. According to him, the German taxpayer ultimately costs more money than it brings to cheap homes.
Wissler received little understanding for her criticism of NATO and the view that Germany should interfere with international crises as little as possible. Die Linke has always been an outspoken opponent of the disastrous war in Afghanistan, but also the German participation in the UN mission in Mali, for example.
Then CSU leader Markus Söder expressed his respect for the people of the Bundeswehr and supported an expansion of the German arsenal with armed drones. This plan to better protect German troops in (peace) missions abroad has been a hot political potato for years.
Söder vs. Laschet
Political watchers were watching Söders performance with interest tonight. The charismatic Prime Minister of the State of Bavaria had fought a bitter battle with CDU Chairman Armin Laschet earlier this year for the Unions leadership. Söder, himself chairman of the small sister party CSU, lost that election, but has consistently hinted since that he would have been a better, more successful candidate himself.
Tonight, however, there was no question of resentment. Söder expressed unconditional support for Laschet and says it is confident that, despite a backlog in the polls, the Union will still take a victory out of the fire on Sunday.
Alternative for Deutschland
For the TV debate, the list leader Alice Weidel of Alternative für Deutschland was also invited. AfD is currently the biggest opposition party in Parliament.
Weidel tried to speak out several times on topics that are close to AfD members, such as criticism of coronavirus policies and doubts about the speed with which climate changes. She was regularly interrupted by the presenters of the debate.
By the way, all other parties in the Bundestag have ruled out cooperation with the AfD before the elections. This is, among other things, because elements within the party are identified as demonstrably right-wing extremist by the German security services.
With this fourth and final TV debate, the German public service broadcaster tried to give the public a final insight into the views of the parties. The seven party leaders were regularly subjected to quick rounds of questions, with only a few sentences to give their opinion on themes.
Whether that voters made much wiser is to be seen, but it was certainly not a luxury. Because 20 to 40% of voters still dont know which party theyre putting their cross to on Sunday. They still have three days to go. The voting rooms will open Sunday at 8am.