Olaf Scholz and humor – that will remain an issue. What he thinks is funny, or thinks funny, earns him a lot of criticism online. And not only there.
The most recent case: At the end of the G7 summit, Scholz lets the questioner from Deutsche Welle walk into an embarrassing void. And grins “smurfily”, as Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder once called it.
Rosalia Romaniec had asked the chancellor whether he could specify what security guarantees for Ukraine the states had agreed on after the war. He answered “Yes”, then said nothing more, grinned and then pushed: “I could.” Pause. “That’s it.” Scattered laughter in the background.
Self-absorbed, arrogant, outrageous, would like to be funny – that’s the reaction to Scholz’s reaction. And across media. A number of journalists accused Scholz of a lack of respect and arrogance; his behavior is embarrassing.
No question, Scholz is polarizing with it. And shows no signs of wanting to change here.
In the ARD interview on the G-7 summit after the press conference, the Chancellor was like that again: between moody and moody. The questioner wanted to know whether, like Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, he could give citizens tips on saving energy. The answer: “Nope.”
Those who know and like Scholz say: This is his typically dry sense of humour, influenced by North Germany. Those who now get to know him (better) don’t all like it; even in Hamburg they sometimes got tired of this kind of thing, not least his Green coalition partners from back then.
They also warned their party friends in Berlin. Especially since there is a clear idea of himself behind it: that he can do better and knows better. Prime Ministers of the SPD used to complain about Scholz’s nature. For example, when he was still Minister of Finance, he said that they just hadn’t understood what great things he had achieved for them. Which can also be understood as ironic, half self-deprecating or sarcastic.
This form of joke is actually more common in the north of the republic. In any case, the colleague from “Deutsche Welle” countered Chancellor Scholz elegantly: When she learned German, Romaniec said, she was urgently recommended to use the polite form for press conferences. “It’s a pity, Mr. Chancellor.”
“Deutsche Welle” director Peter Limbourg, himself a chancellor interviewer for many years, also said that Romaniec had “done everything right”. And he decided that maybe the Federal Chancellor would still find a way “to answer the question properly”. Ideally, it should be factual and humorous at the same time.