Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck (53, Greens) was Germany’s most popular politician in May 2022. In the current INSA ranking of politicians, Habeck ranks 17th. He is the most unpopular minister in the federal government. Only the AfD bosses and the left boss are less popular than him. How could that happen? A portrait.
We have to imagine Robert Habeck as a happy man.
Politics is “never finished,” he says. It is a constant struggle: Like the Greek mythical figure Sisyphus, one has to “roll up a rock day in and day out as a punishment from the gods”.
Albert Camus, a searcher for meaning, already whispered that Sisyphus thus determines his own fate day after day – so he was lucky! That’s how he is, Robert.
► Thinker, doctor of philosophy, gifted translator of the finest English poetry. He feels at home in the works of Camus, Kant, Plato and Heidegger. His life: divided, a man torn between the beautiful, the true and the abysses of realpolitik.
Someone who is looking for the “echo room” in politics (“applause makes you proud”), but now distributes unreasonable demands such as the forced conversion of 20 million heating systems, the energy transition for 40 million households.
Little Robert was born with none of this!
Pharmacist’s son from Heikendorf near Kiel, peace-loving, draft evader. As a 16-year-old: student president with a penchant for drama.
In Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” he plays the nasty money cutter Peachum, initially failing miserably at singing. His friend Jan (“Mackie Messer”, doesn’t hit a note either) gives him the advice of his life: “Don’t let it show. You have to make up your mind to be self-confident in order to become self-confident.” To paraphrase Christian Lindner: “It’s better to act badly than NOT to act…”
Habeck’s life remains marked by the theatrical
► The threat of the reactor catastrophe in Chernobyl (nuclear fallout) becomes clear to him in 1986 when it rains, which ruins the school performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
► Habeck met his wife Andrea (53 like him) in the theater company at the University of Freiburg.
He hitchhiked her to Italy in the early 1990s. SHE plays the flute as a street musician on the Square of Miracles in Pisa. ER takes care of dinner at wild camping: “We only had spaghetti and wine. There was enough money for that.”
The couple becomes the power couple of the German studies scene. Both are doing their doctorates and are successfully translating poems from English. Four sons (21 to 27 years old today) are born, and the Habecks move to a farm near Flensburg at the end of the 1990s.
An idyll. But Robert is not enough. He is looking for the stage, a suitable party: “I wanted to get involved. I was looking for a resonant space larger than a library or book.”
► In the spring of 2002, he goes to a regional meeting of the Greens. “I had an image in my mind of cool, Robin Hood-like champions of a better world.”
the dr Phil from the farm arrives, says later: “They seemed happy with what I said.” First job. District chairman, soon head of state.
Habeck now earns party money: 625 euros, later 1250 – for up to 50 hours a month! He is (a little) ashamed that he has to use second cars that are already scrapped (Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa) to commute to Kiel.
Robert is now a professional politician, his time has come!
Top candidate in the north, faction leader, state minister. 2018 federal head of the Greens, after the 2021 election vice chancellor and head of climate change. There he is now and he can’t do anything else. At first she continues to catch the trick with the pony caressing, the lightning-fast cuddling
Robi: wrinkled clothes without a tie, a whole armada of bags with a casual look, suede, satchels, backpacks (always on one shoulder). The (unloved) jackets are usually too big, the sleeves almost always too long (to the level of the knuckles), the shirts are rarely ironed.
Weirdly on the big stage. However, climate change and heat pumps were never really his profession. He argued with farmers about manure and “kink protection”, against nuclear and for wind turbines.
But it doesn’t matter: the party provides him with its species of “energy agencies” (Agora, Öko-Institut) to teach heating Germany to tremble.
From now on, Habeck is a popular actor and salesman – with great success at first. It’s war in Ukraine, gas crisis, electric shock. The crisis manager (two iPhones with a battered case) is increasingly putting on his fine jacket, sometimes even a tie, when it comes to the “daily topics”.
Carefully frowns if you want to get serious. Bows his head skeptically when questions become uncomfortable. His poll numbers are rising. for now.
His troops in the ministry, who are quite related by marriage, provide him with the templates for the nuclear phase-out, for successful gas storage, the LNG terminals – but also those that make him stumble mightily. First and foremost: the Building Energy Act (GEG).
Habeck’s poll numbers tumble
The GEG makes the Watschenmann out of the Nord-Star. Not only BILD criticizes the “heat pump project” because nobody, not even Habeck, can explain how citizens should pay for the complete conversion of their house (heating plus renovation).
Habeck’s poll numbers tumble within months, only bogeys from the AfD and the left rank below his values. Since then, Habeck has been struggling with his job, his star role!
He gets highly formal when he kicks out his best buddy Patrick Graichen, reading his lyrics word for word off the paper. The minister runs after critics in the Bundestag to confront them.
The office consumes: Habeck works from 6 a.m. to late in the evening, rarely returning to his old Berlin apartment long before midnight, to which he also withdrew in Corona days.
Having turned gray since taking office in Berlin, he only commutes to his Andrea in Flensburg at weekends. She comes to Berlin from time to time, where her sons are also studying. The other day, the two only had a short moment between Habeck’s return from South America and the onward flight to Japan, “to say hello,” says Andrea.
SHE has also turned HIS job gray. She suffers with him when criticism hails, continues to consider him “the best for the office”: “Without Robert, I wouldn’t vote green.”
But Habeck’s dream of personally leading the Green Party (“30 percent plus x”) to the Chancellery is fading. Competitor Baerbock as the next chancellor candidate? Seems far more likely than the weary Robert. Audience and players grumble and turn away!
“He didn’t have a good run and was too fast,” said Green Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (75) in “Zeit” about Habeck. Politics is a pragmatic event where you can’t put your head through the wall.
“Proceeding with bans in a complex structure such as the heating is a ride on a razor blade.” It is “a question of foresight to respond to criticism and then work out compromises”. Ouch. A slap from Kretschmann, of all people, the most successful Greens who had always supported Habeck so far.
“Politics is also a stage,” Habeck writes in his memoirs, “in the end you want people to gossip.”
What if nobody claps anymore? For this, too, Dr. Habeck already lectured: “Then you were just the wrong person and have to go – everything is probably right. But also very unfair.”
This article comes from BILD am SONNTAG. The ePaper of the entire issue is available here.
Source: Asia Times
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