Politics ruin democracy

Opinion: Merkel's corona policy is ignorant and arrogant

"The actions we are taking now are appropriate, necessary and proportionate." With this sentence from her government declaration, Angela Merkel unconsciously sums up the whole dilemma of her corona policy. Because actually seizes the so-called "Corona Cabinet" led by it, with which it delves unprecedentedly deep into the fundamental rights of 83 million people in Germany without the consent of the Bundestag intervenes.

To avoid any misunderstanding: Merkel and the heads of government of the 16 federal states are entitled to do so. The basis of their actions is the Infection Protection Act, which came into force in 2001 and was amended several times during the pandemic. A kind of power of attorney with which the executive can immediately initiate measures to protect the population in an "epidemic of national importance". This is exactly what it did in March with the first lockdown in agreement with Parliament.

The Bundestag must insist on its control rights

Back then it was about reacting to a largely unknown, potentially life-threatening virus. The goal: save lives, break chains of infection and solve the corona puzzle. In March 2020, even the best virologists in the world knew little to nothing about COVID-19. That is why it was easy for the members of the Bundestag to issue the government with a blank check, i.e. to forego their role as legislator and control body.

DW editor Marcel Fürstenau

However, that should be over by the end of October 2020, seven months after the first lockdown. Because now we know a lot, even if not everything about Corona and how the virus can be successfully fought. Nevertheless, the division of tasks between government and parliament has not changed. On Wednesday of this week, Angela Merkel's Corona Cabinet imposed the second lockdown with the partially grudging approval of the prime ministers of the countries.

SPD parliamentary group leader Mützenich finds the right words

She only gave the reason for this on Thursday with her government statement in the Bundestag. This is disrespectful to the elected representatives, who rightly criticized them for it. Rolf Mützenich, parliamentary group leader of the Social Democrats (SPD), who ruled with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian CSU, found the absolutely right words: "Even in uncertain times, the reflex to govern is no alternative to the arduous consensus process."

However, the Chancellor prefers to continue to ignore the parliament and thus the sovereign. Instead, she agreed to further unreasonable demands in advance in her weekly video podcast. To be clear: some of it is unavoidable in view of the dramatic increase in the number of infections and deaths. But the partially existence-threatening restrictions must also be questioned. Also outside the Bundestag, of course, because some measures are anything but plausible.

Culture and gastronomy must feel fooled

The renewed closure of restaurants, hotels, cinemas, theaters and concert halls will hit those with full force that even scientists consider to be largely safe places with no greater risk of infection. Angela Merkel's sympathy for these industries must sound like a mockery to the ears of those affected: "I understand the frustration, even the despair, especially in these areas very much." The many hygiene concepts that have been developed are not pointless, they would also be needed again later, the Chancellor said. The problem: Many will be finally driven into ruin by the second lockdown.

Your last chance to escape this fate would be lawsuits against the sometimes contradicting and arbitrary corona policy of the federal and state governments. This path has already been crowned with success several times after demonstrations were banned or bans on accommodation and curfew had been imposed. The fact that hotels are now again not allowed to allow private travelers to stay overnight by regulation is an expression of power-political arrogance. In doing so, Angela Merkel and the other lockdown proponents are unduly weakening the overall acceptance of state intervention.

Parliament must end its spectator role!

This is one of the reasons why it is high time that Parliament finally focused again on its core task and exercised it: the control of the federal government. Angela Merkel also warned against lies and disinformation in her government statement. These damaged not only the democratic debate, but also the fight against the virus. Who wanted to contradict the Chancellor on this point? Nobody except corona deniers.

However, its political style also poses a threat to democratic culture in Germany if it continues to inform parliament about its plans, intentions and decisions only in retrospect. The Bundestag must be an actor again in corona policy with immediate effect. The time of the spectator role is over.