Just a few days ago, ZDF presenter Maybrit Illner spoke about the topic with her guests: “A lot of crisis, little trust: will the traffic light survive the super-electoral year?”

After all, in 2024 not only the European elections will be held, but also three state elections in the east of the republic. All opportunities to “take one out” of the federal government, Illner said. The topic is explosive.

Because things are not going well for the traffic light coalition. A corresponding ranking by Forsa recently showed how weak the population's trust in politics and its institutions is.

The federal government did not present a good outlook

The Chancellor and the federal government therefore suffered a huge loss of confidence. In the survey published at the beginning of 2024, Olaf Scholz scored 20 percent, the traffic light coalition scored 21. For comparison: 81 percent of respondents trusted doctors or the police.

One thing is clear: the federal government has not given itself a good image in recent weeks and months. For example, regarding asylum policy. Municipalities complain about the high number of refugees and no solution to the problem is in sight.

Technical errors, for example in the Building Energy Act, have worried many people. And then there is the constant conflict within the government, which plays out publicly. The Greens, for example, spoke out regarding payment cards for refugees.

Scheuer exporter remembers the War of the Roses

Wolfgang Ainetter, who worked for three years as spokesman for former Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU), sees the constant disputes at traffic lights as a big problem.

In an interview with FOCUS online, he says: “Think about the recent dispute over the basic support provided for children. Or the dispute over the debt brake. Or the ignoble debate over whether Germany should deliver “Taurus” cruise missiles to Ukraine.”

Ainetter recalls a War of the Roses in which the parties only communicate with each other through their lawyers, distrust each other and “want to get as much as possible for themselves.”

The federal government has certainly achieved successes, for example by raising the minimum wage as planned, introducing a national security strategy, and abolishing the EEG fee. All this is in the coalition agreement.

“Only he who is understood can convince”

However, the policy of the red-green-yellow coalition does not seem to please citizens. The traffic light politicians do not explain themselves enough, says the author and communication expert Ainetter. Especially in times of crisis.

“Only those who are understood can be convincing,” a university professor once told me. Olaf Scholz is currently not understood because he too often hides behind phrases and text modules and he does not seem to be a master of empathetic leadership.”

Scholz brings with him many things that are important right now, he says. “Because in times of crisis people trust politicians who do their job seriously and professionally and are not foam fighters.” It is not for nothing that the Chancellor has the nickname “Scholzomat”.

Current polls show how strongly public support is eroding. With Infratest dimap, the three traffic light parties together would only get 37 percent of the vote if a federal election were held next Sunday. 18 percent of respondents would choose AfD.

“Citizens do not want detractors on the government bench”

Ainetter believes: “The traffic light must clearly convey to people the direction in which they want to take our country. At these times, the outsider sometimes has the impression that the compass of the government ship has been lost.”

When the members of the traffic light coalition give Germany a bad reputation as a place of business, as Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) recently did, this, in his opinion, is not well received by the population.

“The job of those in government is to change things, not complain about them. Especially in difficult times, citizens do not want pessimists on the government bench, but rather optimists and facilitators.

Many observers find the AfD's popularity in Germany's eastern states especially worrying. According to polls, one in three people in Saxony or Thuringia would vote for right-wing populists if regional elections were held next Sunday.

“The AfD is building its own audience”

Unlike traditional parties, it is also the AfD that celebrates its successes on Tiktok. “On average, AfD videos are viewed three times more than videos of all other parties combined,” says Ainetter. “Six of the ten most popular German political accounts belong to people from the AfD.”

According to Scheuer's former head of communications, an AfD message receives an average of 430,000 impressions, while other parties receive much fewer impressions. Ainetter also explains why content from right-wing populists works so well.

“Whoever makes a fuss on social media quickly gains many followers thanks to the algorithm and increases interactions. Furthermore, no other party has invested so much and so early in social media: the AfD is building its own audience and denigrating traditional media as lying press.

However, the party, which in some federal states is supervised by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, cannot act completely freely on TikTok. The official AfD account has been blocked for about two years, due to “hateful behavior”, as reported by the “Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ).

Lauterbach is the first federal minister to appear on TikTok

And: TikTok recently restricted the reach of the AfD's main candidate for the European elections, Maximilian Krah. The reason: Krah is said to have repeatedly violated community standards.

But even if the platform takes action against individual AfD channels, the success of right-wing populists remains notable. This has also reached other parties.

Ainetter believes that “even the last politician has understood that elections cannot be won without social networks.” She increasingly recognizes professional social media accounts of committed politicians, even outside the AfD.

Karl Lauterbach is now the first federal minister active on the TikTok channel. “The revolution on Tiktok begins today. My first post on Tiktok!,” he posted recently. And it reached more than a million viewers.

Ainetter: We need a new culture of error

From his time in the ministry, Ainetter knows that being a politician is not an easy job. He also shows this in his ministerial satirical detective novel “Secrets, Lies and Other Coins.”

“The psychological stress is enormous; I once read somewhere the phrase: 'Being a politician eats away at the soul.' The constant hostility, especially on social media, makes many parliamentarians put on protective armor and appear distant,” he says. .

In Ainetter's opinion, a new culture of error is necessary. “Then maybe there would be fewer annoying 'I'm so cool, I'm so important' videos and more honest, authentic, personal, amazing messages.”

Failed to fetch data from the URL.