Olaf Scholz has a wide range of talents – otherwise he would probably not have become chancellor against all odds. Communication is not one of them. That is not entirely unimportant. Polished, empathetic, and integrating rhetoric should be as much a part of a chancellor’s political craft as the ability to make the right decisions.
Angela Merkel and Helmut Kohl were not gifted speakers either, but Scholz is once again a quality in his own right.
If one more proof was needed that the chancellor has a deficit here, he provided it with the press conference alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In Berlin, Abbas obviously and deliberately broke a federal republican taboo when he spoke of a “Holocaust” that the Israelis perpetrated on his people. It was a deliberate provocation.
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The fact that the Holocaust is a singular event that cannot be relativized is part of Germany’s reason of state. But Scholz ignored the Palestinian President’s obvious gaffe. Only after a veritable wave of indignation did the chancellor feel compelled to criticize Abbas’ statements.
It is not uncommon for the chancellor to remain silent at the wrong moments. When the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a historic and moving speech in the Bundestag, Scholz preferred to hide motionless behind his black Covid mask and go on with the agenda with reference to the rules of procedure.
Clumsy at best, arrogant at worst
CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen rightly spoke of the “most undignified moment” in parliament.
Unforgotten is the scene when the chancellor duped a journalist at the G7 summit by simply saying, “I could” when asked if he could give a more specific answer – and then said nothing. Should it be humor? Nobody found that funny. It seemed awkward at best, arrogant at worst.
Almost every day, Scholz” Vize demonstrates how important communicative competence is: emphatic, dialectical, thoughtful, sometimes even doubting himself – this is how Robert Habeck appears. This gives him authority and even gives him a certain maturity as chancellor – a quality that his superior still has to work on.
More: Olaf Scholz’s speech tactics – an analysis