Can Laschet’s 100-day action plan win over German voters?

The conservatives are trailing second in the polls, and the CDU's Armin Laschet is failing to inspire the German population ahead of the election. Will his 'immediate action programme' win over voters?

Can Laschet's 100-day action plan win over German voters?
CDU/CSU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet with current Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Pool | Kay Nietfeld

After a disappointing campaign so far, Armin Laschet – the CDU/CSU (Union) candidate hoping to win Chancellor Angela Merkel’s job at the September 26th federal election – had another trick up his sleeve to try and convince voters that he is the right choice. 

On Monday Laschet launched the Union’s 100-day ‘immediate programme’ or Sofortprogram promising swift action if he gains power, including some financial relief for large groups of voters. 

It was clearly an attempt to reverse the recent polls where his rival – the SPD’s Olaf Scholz – has gained the top spot. 

It came after a fiery TV duel that saw Laschet and Scholz swipe at each other repeatedly, while the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock also laid into both. The debate was watched by nearly 11 million people in Germany. 


In a snap poll after the 90-minute debate on Sunday evening, viewers decided that Scholz was the winner, while Baerbock scored highest on likeability. 

Laschet on Monday said he was unfazed. He spoke of a successful weekend for the conservatives – from the “great CSU party conference” held on Saturday to the TV Triell, and the local elections in Lower Saxony, where the CDU became the strongest force.

“Polls are polls, in the end it’s the voters who decide,” said Laschet.

Can the conservatives catch up?

It’s true that this election campaign has been surprising so far and it may all be still to play for. 

But with less than two weeks to go, the SPD with the stable-like (read: Merkel) influence of Scholz as their chancellor candidate, has been enjoying a steady resurgence for some time. 

So it’s easy to see why Laschet has now released a plan to try and connect with the German public. 

“You can rely on the CDU and CSU in uncertain times,” Laschet said when launching the six-point plan. “There are six packages on the important issues that we want to tackle immediately in the 100 days after the election.”

The plan promises to “lead our country out of the crisis stronger than before”.

The prerequisite for this is that the CDU/CSU governs again – and in a bid to make sure that happens, the party is directing some promises at its classic target groups: the middle class, families, the police and emergency services and farmers. 

The programme is based on the Union’s manifesto, but some points have been expanded, and the 100 day promise is aimed at showing voters that action will be taken quickly. 


Among the important points in the new programme are:

  • More money for families, including raising child benefits for families and single parents, supporting family caregivers financially 
  • Families would also be supported when buying their own home through an exemption from real estate transfer tax
  • More CCTV cameras in public places, including 1,000 new cameras at train stations every year. A National Security Council would be set up in the Chancellery in order to better coordinate the response to foreign and domestic security challenges.
  • An ‘acceleration package’ provides for faster approval procedures for construction projects
  • When it comes to the climate, there would be interest-free loans for solar roofs. For farmers, the package promises “no new burdens”
  • The plan promises no tax rises for small and medium-sized businesses. Relief is also promised in the form of higher tax-free allowances for all, plus the maximum wage for mini-jobs would be raised from €450 to €500

Does it hit the mark?

Spelling out to voters how crossing a box for the CDU/CSU will affect their life is a good plan – especially as gaffe-prone Laschet could do with the spotlight moving away from him. 

However, critics are not convinced. Sabine Henkel from broadcaster ARD said the the immediate action programme was “anything but the hoped-for gamechanger”.

“Familiar ideas written on new paper,” she said. “Nothing more. No vision, no idea, no narrative. The last great people’s party in Europe is entering the last days of the election campaign without a plan and without a concept,” she said.

ANALYSIS: Who could be in Germany’s next coalition government?

Some economists also slammed Laschet’s programme.

Jens Südekum, professor of economics at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, said the financing for the points was “completely unclear”, adding that it was “unrealistic”. 

Support, naturally, came from the CDU’s Bavarian sister party and election partner, the CSU.

“Armin Laschet’s 100-day program has a strong impact,” said CSU General Secretary Markus Blume. “Immediately after taking office, we plan to relieve families and medium-sized businesses in particular. Rapid tax cuts for people with small and medium-sized incomes, dynamic commuter allowances, support for climate innovations – that’s how the future works.”

READ ALSO: An era ends: How will Germany and the world remember the Merkel years?

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Germany’s ‘traffic light’ parties sign coalition agreement in Berlin

Two and a half months after the federal elections on September 26th, the three parties of the incoming 'traffic light' coalition - the SPD, Greens and FDP - have formally signed their coalition agreement at a public ceremony in Berlin.

Traffic light coalition
Germany's next Chancellor Olaf Scholz (front, left) on stage in Berlin with other members of the new coalition government, and their signed agreement. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

The move marks the final stage of a 10-week week process that saw the three unlikely bedfellows forming a first-of-its-kind partnership in German federal government. 

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz is now due to be elected Chancellor of Germany on Wednesday and his newly finalised cabinet will be sworn in on the same day. This will mark the end of the 16-year Angela Merkel era following the veteran leader’s decision to retire from politics this year. 

Speaking at the ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday morning, Scholz declared it “a morning when we set out for a new government.”

He praised the speed at which the three parties had concluded their talks and said the fight against the Covid crisis would first require the full strength of the new coalition.

Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck, who is set to head up a newly formed environment and energy ministry, said the goal was “a government for the people of Germany”.

He stressed that the new government would face the joint challenge of bringing climate neutrality and prosperity together in Europe’s largest industrial nation and the world’s fourth largest economy.

Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock spoke of a coalition agreement “on the level of reality, on the level of social reality”.

FDP leader Christian Lindner, who managed to secure the coveted role of Finance Minister in the talks, declared that now was the “time for action”.

“We are not under any illusions,” he told people gathered at the ceremony. “These are great challenges we face.”

Scholz, Habeck and Lindner are scheduled to hold  a press conference before midday to answer questions on the goals of the new government.

‘New beginnings’

Together with the Greens and the FDP, Scholz’s SPD managed in a far shorter time than expected to forge a coalition that aspires to make Germany greener and fairer.

The Greens became the last of the three parties to agree on the contents of the 177-page coalition agreement an in internal vote on Monday, following approval from the SPD and FDP’s inner ranks over the weekend.

“I want the 20s to be a time of new beginnings,” Scholz told Die Zeit weekly, declaring an ambition to push forward “the biggest industrial modernisation which will be capable of stopping climate change caused by mankind”.

Putting equality rhetoric into practice, he unveiled the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet on Monday, with women in key security portfolios.

“That corresponds to the society we live in – half of the power belongs to women,” said Scholz, who describes himself as a “feminist”.

READ ALSO: Scholz names Germany’s first gender-equal cabinet

The centre-left’s return to power in Europe’s biggest economy could shift the balance on a continent still reeling from Brexit and with the other major player, France, heading into presidential elections in 2022.

But even before it took office, Scholz’s “traffic-light” coalition – named after the three parties’ colours – was already given a baptism of fire in the form of a fierce fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Balancing act
Dubbed “the discreet” by left-leaning daily TAZ, Scholz, 63, is often described as austere or robotic.
But he also has a reputation for being a meticulous workhorse.
An experienced hand in government, Scholz was labour minister in Merkel’s first coalition from 2007 to 2009 before taking over as vice chancellor and finance minister in 2015.
Yet his three-party-alliance is the first such mix at the federal level, as the FDP is not a natural partner for the SPD or the Greens.

Keeping the trio together will require a delicate balancing act taking into account the FDP’s business-friendly leanings, the SPD’s social equality instincts and the Greens’ demands for sustainability.

Under their coalition deal, the parties have agreed to secure Germany’s path to carbon neutrality, including through huge investments in sustainable energy.

They also aim to return to a constitutional no-new-debt rule – suspended during the pandemic – by 2023.

FDP cabinets
Volker Wissing (l-r), FDP General Secretary und designated Transport Minister, walks alongside Christian Lindner, FDP leader and designated Finance Minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), the incoming Education Minister, and Marco Buschmann, the incoming Justice Minister. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler


Incoming foreign minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens has vowed to put human rights at the centre of German diplomacy.

She has signalled a more assertive stance towards authoritarian regimes like China and Russia after the commerce-driven pragmatism of Merkel’s 16 years in power.

Critics have accused Merkel of putting Germany’s export-dependent economy first in international dealings.

Nevertheless she is still so popular at home that she would probably have won a fifth term had she sought one.

The veteran politician is also widely admired abroad for her steady hand guiding Germany through a myriad of crises.