Home » Habeck on a summer trip: And then Robert Habeck explains where the strengthening of the AfD comes from

Habeck on a summer trip: And then Robert Habeck explains where the strengthening of the AfD comes from

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Habeck on a summer trip: And then Robert Habeck explains where the strengthening of the AfD comes from

Robert Habeck is in his element: for more than an hour he has been standing in Karlstorbahnhof, a cultural center in Heidelberg, explaining the world. On this evening, the questions are asked by the almost exclusively well-disposed audience. Anyone who wanted to take part in the “Citizens’ Dialogue” in Heidelberg had to register online beforehand. That’s what the Green Party voters obviously did the most.

Only two handful of demonstrators got lost in front of Karlstor station. A few AfD supporters are there, one calls for peace with Russia, another freedom for Julian Assange. It’s not about heaters. The demonstrators have to stay outside anyway.

A year ago it was completely different in Bayreuth. Back then, during the last summer trip of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Habeck’s speech on the market square could hardly be understood, the whistles and boos of the demonstrators were so loud. But on this Monday evening it is already clear from the requests to speak which audience has made it into the hall. One of the most critical questions is how best to persuade people to become vegetarians, Habeck is also supposed to answer whether the extinction of species isn’t just as bad as climate change, and then a visitor also wants to know why the minister hasn’t changed things more consistently.

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It is an atmosphere in which Robert Habeck begins to philosophize. He has rarely been able to take on this role in recent months, the criticism of his heating law, which has not yet been passed, was too severe and he was too much on the defensive. Habeck is obviously happy to be able to get some geographical distance from the Berlin debates of the past few weeks during his summer trip.

Heavy criticism is not to be expected on the summer trip

The program is designed in such a way that severe criticism is not to be expected: While a year ago the Economics Minister was still visiting paper and glass factories that were particularly suffering from the energy crisis that was looming at the time, this year the program mainly focuses on those who benefit from the energy and heating transition : The first stop is Bürkle+Schöck, a medium-sized company near Stuttgart that installs heat pumps and photovoltaic systems, among other things.

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Here the fuss about the Building Energy Act is still a joke at best. “Mr. Minister, you are going too fast,” boss Thomas Bürkle calls after the politician as he wants to hurry past the demonstrator switch box. “I’ve heard that before,” Habeck jokes and grins. When an employee demonstrates how the deployment of the installers is digitally controlled by simply setting Robert Habeck up as a “RoHa1000” technician in his system, who is now supposed to install a heat pump, he just exclaims: “Oh, no!” Here in Swabia he can laugh again about the unsuccessful heat pump law.

This is followed by a visit to Bosch, where Habeck hands over a funding decision for almost 161 million euros for a hydrogen project, and an appointment at Südkabel, a company in Mannheim that hopes for future good business from the energy transition.

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So Habeck himself has to take on the role of the critic when he is on the stage in Heidelberg that evening. He already knows that it is an impertinence if you have to change. And the Greens have “many changes in our program” with the energy, transport and heating transitions, he admits. “It’s very clear: with a lot of turns, you sometimes get a bit dizzy.” You also have to be self-critical, “ie critical of Robert,” says the minister. “It’s true: we’ve been arguing on the open stage for the last six months, basically the entire legislative period,” said Habeck. “A government that quarrels publicly like tinkers is not good.”

The second imposition next to change is to “stay together”. It’s exhausting not to withdraw into your bubble and continue to discuss with those who have different opinions. “You know how fragile the democratic space is at the moment and how easy it is to get attention with populist slogans,” Habeck praises his audience, because after all it came to discuss. However, in the Karlstor train station that evening you can be seen moving in a green bubble.

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Habeck wants to tell “a lasting positive story”.

Max, 19, physics student and member of the Green Youth, poses the first question: “How can we convince people of climate protection who don’t vote based on facts but on emotions?” He “hit him right in the heart, because emotions always part of it, of course,” answers Habeck. It’s just not enough “just to look at the pure science, at the numbers, at the facts”. He doesn’t believe that you can be politically successful if you only ever draw horrific images. “My way out of this is to tell a positive story on a permanent basis,” says the minister.

And because Habeck is just philosophizing, he gets down to basics that evening: There are a few political “key concepts” that are always disputed. Habeck names: “prosperity”, “freedom”, “responsibility” and “Germany”. And you shouldn’t just give that up and leave it to your political opponents. Habeck then tried Ludwig Erhard’s “prosperity for all”.

“Now that doesn’t mean that everyone has to become super-millionaires, but it does mean that the country’s wealth is distributed fairly,” he says. But ecological distribution must now also be added to the social market economy. One should not “completely ruin the prosperity opportunities of future generations through the wealth that we are generating now”. The term “prosperity” must always be redefined and fought for.

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According to Habeck, some people’s concept of freedom is even the reason for the AfD’s strong performance in polls. “The reason right-wing populism is gaining strength is not that people want an authoritarian state, a strong leader, the dominance of ‘law and order’, but the opposite: to be left alone,” says Habeck. “Everything that comes your way in terms of statehood is a threat to your own sense of freedom.”

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The problem is that this idea of ​​freedom is “perverted very quickly”. If there were no laws, no public safety, rule “Wild West, we shoot ourselves, we don’t need cops”. “This thought quickly leads to a wrong, exaggerated, almost asocial position of freedom,” says Habeck. He speaks of a “perverted freedom narrative”.

You have to prove again and again that “everyone is not thought of when everyone thinks of themselves”. Instead, you have to show that institutions and infrastructure work. “That’s political talk now, I know that,” says Habeck. But: “You have to prove that it is better if you get closer to the community.” That is “very, very difficult” and that is why he is “very worried” about the strengthening of the right-wing populists. “It’s about two different understandings of freedom: one that isolates itself and one that knows that freedom is only possible in a functioning society. That is the conflict that is being fought out at the moment.” However, the dispute was not settled that evening in Heidelberg. Everyone agrees in Karlstor station.

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