Chancellor Scholz reappears with an eye patch after a fall while exercising: “I wait for the memes” | International

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with an eye patch, in an image distributed this Monday by the Chancellery after he suffered a minor accident last weekend.BPA (via REUTERS)

Who said German humor doesn't exist? The head of Government of the largest economy in the EU, Olaf Scholz, wanted to get ahead of the rain of jokes that have already begun to flood social networks and has encouraged jokes with his new, temporary image, revealed this Monday through a official photo. “It seems worse than it is,” says the 65-year-old politician in his X accountformerly Twitter. A black, pirate-style patch covers his right eye, and small wounds can be seen around it and even on his chin. “I wait for the memes,” jokes the German chancellor.

Scholz reappeared this Monday in this way after suffering an accident while playing sports last Saturday. According to his team, he tripped while doing joggingan activity that he practices daily, even though he is outside the country on international commitments. The consequences of his fall were not serious, as he himself has pointed out, but they forced him to cancel at least one event on his agenda.

After the weekend, the chancellor resumes his activity, which will not be disturbed by the consequences of the fall, his team explained. “Thank you for the good wishes,” Scholz also says on the social network, anticipating the surprise that would have caused seeing him with his eye covered like Jack Sparrow, without prior notice, on his first official date. This Monday afternoon he is expected at the annual reception offered by the German Catholic Church in the parish of St. Michael in the capital, invited by Bishop Karl Jüsten.

The users of the X network, who do not need permission to make jokes, have started with the obvious: Scholz dressed as a pirate on a paradise island, with a parrot on his shoulder included. In other, The parrot has the face of Angela Merkel. “We are governed by a privateer,” someone takes the opportunity to criticize. The Pirate Party joins the joke: “We have become chancellor!” He exclaims in front of Scholz's photo. “You should see the FDP”jokes one user, in reference to the junior partner of his tripartite government, the liberals, with whom both Scholz's social democrats and the Greens constantly clash within the Executive.

Scholz heads to the halfway point of his mandate with one of the worst evaluations of the governing team that Germany has ever remembered. Not since the disastrous polls of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2004 – who lost the elections to Merkel the following year – has such a low result been recorded in the periodic polls commissioned by public television ARD. Since the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the popularity of the tripartite has been falling, but in the latest edition of this survey, from just a few days ago, it has reached a new low: only 19% of respondents are very satisfied or simply satisfied with the work of the coalition, known as a traffic light because of the colors of the three parties that make it up (red for the social democrats, green for the environmentalists and yellow for the liberals).

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The extreme right, in second position

This lack of satisfaction carries over to questions about voting. If there were federal elections on Sunday – initially scheduled for 2025 – Scholz's SPD would obtain a meager 16%. The data is especially worrying when compared with the results of other formations. The Christian Democrats of the CDU would increase two percentage points compared to last month and would be the most voted force with 29%. But second place would go to a far-right party that is being monitored by the internal secret services for suspicions of unconstitutionality: Alternative for Germany (AfD). If there were elections today, this party, which has already begun to gain territorial power in town councils and rural districts, would obtain 22% of the votes, its best historical result in the prestigious ARD polls, called Deutschlandtrend.

The federal elections of September 2021 left the image of a triumphant social democracy willing to explore the tripartite formula, unknown in Germany since the 1950s. The SPD won with 25.7% of the vote. The war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and the frequent and widely aired disputes between the coalition partners have been undermining that support until this historic formation lost almost 10 points in voting intention. His partners, liberals and greens, have also been penalized in the polls. Today they could not reissue their alliance.

The main concerns of Germans are currently the economy and immigration, which have displaced the war in Ukraine and climate change from the podium. At the beginning of April only 7% of respondents mentioned the economy; Today one in four do it. The German locomotive is far from the spectacular figures of the last decade. For starters, it has just barely emerged from a technical recession, but it is still barely growing. In the second quarter of the year, its gross domestic product remained stable (0.1%) while the rest of the large European economies regained strength at a much better pace. And if there is something that worries the average German, it is inflation, which remains stubbornly high in the country (6.1% in August), more affected by the energy crisis than the majority of its community partners.

Chancellor Scholz downplays the country's problems and promises ambitious measures to address them, but his leadership capacity is increasingly being questioned, which sometimes seems to be reduced to acting as an arbiter between the two most fiercely opposing factions in his Government. The frequent fights between greens and liberals generate rivers of ink in the press and citizens, fed up with the spectacle, look towards the conservatives and, increasingly, towards the extreme right. Although the chancellor downplays these data, the rise of far-right populism will be another of the concerns of the second half of his mandate.

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