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Germany: Scholz warns against 'competing with populists'

June 26, 2024

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has put the rise of far-right politicians down to a loss of trust in mainstream parties but warned against engaging in a competition with extremists.

Olaf Scholz pictured outwide the Reichstag building in Berlin
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned against descending into "competition with populists"Image: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

For German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the success of far-right populist parties at the recent European parliamentary elections is a "decisive turning point" in politics. At the same time, he warned against engaging in a "competition with populists and extremists who exploit the concerns of citizens for their own ends."

The left-leaning politician said the growth of far right, Eurosceptic parties was due to the public losing trust in mainstream politics as the world faces a series of crises. Scholz then called on moderate politicians to give reasons to restore "confidence in Germany and Europe."

"There can be no return to the good old days which often weren't actually that good," he told the German parliament, the Bundestag, in a government policy statement on Wednesday.

"What we need is the political perspective which [offers a] good future in uncertain times," he said, calling for realistic solutions rather than simple, populist answers.

The head of the German government also noted that three quarters of voters did not support populist or extremist parties.

Scholz: 'Europe is a central, national purpose for Germany'

Looking ahead to upcoming European Union (EU) and NATO summits, Scholz reiterated Berlin's commitment to both organizations and called on them to "strengthen security both domestically and abroad."

"Europe is a central, national purpose for Germany," he said.

Referring to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), he said this was "a party which is making common cause with the suggestions of the Russian President [Vladimir Putin]."

He also slammed lawmakers from the AfD and from the left-wing Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) who boycotted the recent speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the German parliament as "cowardly."

"That was wrong, cowardly and not befitting of this house," he said.

Returning to domestic issues and his coalition government's ongoing 2025 budget talks, Scholz rejected any suggestion of social cuts which he said would further erode social solidarity.

"There can be no cuts to social justice, health, care or pensions," he said, promising a draft budget in July.

"More security, more cohesion, more growth – these are the priorities for our country," Scholz said.

mf/dj (dpa,AFP)