EAbout a year and a half before the next federal election, Chancellor Olaf Scholz sees most of the 2021 traffic light coalition agreement as already implemented. “If you take the coalition agreement and what we have written down, we would certainly be closer to 80, 90 percent,” said the SPD politician on Monday at an event organized by the VRM publishing group in Mainz. “We probably won’t reach 100,” he added. “But I think it’s possible that we end up at 90 percent despite a fairly ambitious program for a good future for Germany.”

The traffic light government formed by the SPD, Greens and FDP started its four-year term in office on December 8, 2021 with a 141-page coalition agreement entitled “Dare more progress – Alliance for freedom, justice and sustainability”. At half-time last summer, the Bertelsmann Foundation presented a study on implementation. Of the 453 promises from the coalition agreement, the authors saw almost two thirds (64 percent) as either implemented (38 percent) or initiated (26 percent). Compared to the previous government, the traffic light has achieved a little less proportionately, but the absolute number of government projects that have already been undertaken is higher.

Scholz against pension cuts

In addition, Chancellor Olaf Scholz currently sees no possibility of setting up new special funds in addition to the regular budget. Special funds are currently being praised by some as a way out, said Scholz, referring to the budget debate. “I don't see a two-thirds majority for any special funds at the moment,” he added, referring to the special credit line of 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr, for which the Basic Law was changed together with the opposition Union. He always listens with interest to suggestions, but doesn't see that the opposition parties want to decide on them.

At the same time, the Chancellor emphasized that he refused to cut social spending in order to achieve the necessary permanent increase in the Bundeswehr budget to two percent of economic output. “I can allay your fear that the Chancellor has such plans,” said the SPD politician in response to a question. It would be a “powerful effort” to achieve the two percent, said Scholz, alluding to the financing problems after the special fund expired. “But in my view it would be wrong to finance this through cuts, for example in pensions or elsewhere. I would be against it.”

Regarding criticism from business associations and the opposition about the planned minimum pension level of 48 percent of average income, Scholz said that some people currently want to cut pensions again. “The Chancellor is against this. And if he gets insulted for it – gladly.”

AfD statements “very similar” to Putin

Olaf Scholz expressed concern about the current reports about a Russian disinformation campaign and possible covert payments from Russia to an AfD politician. If you listen to what AfD representatives in the Bundestag and elsewhere said about questions of the European security order, it sounds “very similar” to the position of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Scholz. “Now we are also hearing that some people are being accused of being financially dependent on it.”

The Chancellor continued that he could not judge whether that was true or not. “But it is something that should not be taken lightly.” Scholz was indirectly referring to the allegations against the AfD European election candidate Petr Bystron. The Czech newspaper “Denik N” had reported that the Bundestag member was suspected of having been in contact with the pro-Russian internet platform “Voice of Europe” (VoE), which the Prague cabinet had recently placed on the national sanctions list. He may also have accepted money.

Bystron, however, emphasizes that he has nothing to blame himself for. The AfD leadership is sticking by its European election candidate for the time being: “At this point in time, the federal executive board must assume that Mr. Bystron is innocent,” said party leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla in a joint statement on Monday after deliberations by the AfD federal executive board.

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