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Angela Merkel coronavirus strategy sparks strong opposition

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s way of handling the coronavirus crisis is beginning to attract strong opposition from different parties including some members of her own ruling coalition.

Some have even accused her of fighting the virus “with means known since the Middle Ages”.

In her policy declaration at the Berlin Bundestag on Thursday, Ms Merkel said Germany was “walking on very thin ice”.

In some quarters the chancellor’s determined strategy to combat coronavirus pandemic has won her praise for the success achieved.

Ms Merkel’s strategy has in fact enabled Germany to record a lower death rate than in the neighbouring countries. Official figures show that only 3.7 percent of the 150,000 confirmed cases of infection have resulted in deaths.

The chancellor’s popularity has of late been rising. A few months ago many thought that she had reached the end of her political career due to her immigration policies.

The two partners in the government alliance, the conservative Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party gained 10 points in two months in opinion polls.

Internal wrangles
The political climate is however changing and some protests have been noted within the ranks of Ms Merkel’s party.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the president of the Bundestag lower house has opposed Ms Merkel’s plans to extend the coronavirus lockdown measures. He said doing so would impinge on fundamental citizens’ rights.

“When I hear that protecting lives should come above everything else, I don’t think that is absolutely true,” he told Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel on Sunday.

Armin Laschet, a candidate to succeed Merkel as CDU leader strongly opposed the chancellor’s strategy to prolong the lockdown measures saying it was appropriate to lift them.

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Laschet, who is the state premier for Germany’s most populous region North-Rhine Westphalia, told the public broadcaster ARD on Sunday night that while the virus was still a question of life and death, the lockdown measures were having negative effects for instance on children who have had to stay home for at least six weeks.

He also criticised the pessimistic predictions of epidemiologists that Ms Merkel listens to their recommendations, stressing that 40% of the beds in the intensive care units in his area are empty.

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Similar views have been expressed by Germany’s most popular newspaper, Bild, which on its editorial on Monday accused Ms Merkel of being “stubborn, pig-headed and bossy”.

The government’s lockdown measures have also been criticised by the opposition parties. Co-leader of the Greens Annalena Baerbock slammed plans to allow Bundesliga football to resume without spectators from next month, RTL reported.