The AfD is the beginning, as must Angela Merkel. For that is how it is in the so-called general debate on government policy: the largest opposition group is the first to speak.
So while AFD parliamentary leader Alice Weidel throws her a lot at the lectern's desk (more on that later), the Chancellor goes through her manuscript a few yards away, chatting a bit with sitting neighbor Olaf Scholz. Merkel has become accustomed to at least not giving Weidel her undivided attention.
Welcome back to the Bundestag after the summer break.
Many had doubted whether the chancellor was still there, at home in Germany at least, because at last she appeared mainly as a global political traveler. Merkel makes herself scarce in her party, to the state election results in Saxony and Brandenburg, the former CDU chief public said no sound, although there was much to say.
The general debate in the budget week is now Merkel's first major domestic appearance after the parliamentary vacation. However, after Weidel's upbeat attacks, the focus should not be on the past electoral successes of the AfD, but on the climate. The climate chancellor, as Merkel once was, is back on this Wednesday morning - after all, the Grand Coalition wants to agree in ten days on Friday on fundamental climate policy decisions. The concrete steps as well as their financing are so far open.
- Merkel's strongest moment
Before the summer break, the Chancellor should have said in the meeting of members of the CDU and CSU, climate protection must now be over with "pills". The quote is neither confirmed nor would Merkel express it publicly - but the vehemence with which the otherwise very sober politician gets involved this morning is indeed remarkable.
One has to understand climate change as a "challenge to mankind", says Merkel, she speaks of a "tremendous show of strength" and drives several times with her fist through the air. And in the direction of all those who are suddenly too fast in terms of climate protection, she says: "doing nothing is not the alternative", the money since "well used". Germany as an industrialized country must rather go ahead and prove that one can even profit economically with appropriate technology.
- Merkel's weakest moment
In recent years, the Chancellor has developed a certain mastery to present the problems and challenges of Germany in a very large context. That's no wonder, if you've been out and about in the world for as long as Merkel has seen everything from the crisis in Moldova to the crisis-hit Donald Trump. And in any case, in times of the great simplifiers, it is good to represent things in their complexity.
But it also leads to a certain fatigue in the long run - so also this morning. Because before Merkel comes to the major construction sites climate and digitization, she hisses first by the geopolitical crises, starting with the Brexit, and shows the different actors. "I tried to show the frame," she says. It took ten minutes.
That AfD politicians persistently call between when she speaks, it has gotten used to the Chancellor. But while she talks about climate change, she's suddenly interrupted by someone in the Green Group. It is Jürgen Trittin, former Federal Environment Minister and long-time fraction leader. He exclaims: "And why did you do nothing for 14 years?", As Merkel describes the urgency of the topic. It is a frequent allegation: The CDU politician had nothing or too little in her long chancellorship to combat climate change initiated and implemented.
As the Chancellor pauses for a moment, then says: She would really like to answer, if the heckler would not be too much honor. Then someone from the ranks of the Green Group calls: "But it is true". Merkel returns: "No, that's not true."
- The coalition partner
For the Social Democrats, the acting faction leader Rolf Mützenich, who will soon be elected as the regular chairman of the SPD MEPs. Mützenich goes even further than Merkel: he tries to develop a modern narrative from the meritorious history of his party. Justice, cohesion, participation. In the first few minutes it sounds like a job application speech.
In terms of the climate, Mützenich focuses not only on the upcoming decisions in the coalition but also on the new EU Commission under the CDU politician Ursula von der Leyen, Europe must play a pioneering role. Whether the market always give the right answers, not just to question climate protection, says the SPD politician. He also expressed his skepticism with regard to the additional expenditure on armaments demanded by the Union - an old controversial issue in the coalition.
- The opposition
Who listens AfD faction leader Weidel, which must Germany as a Republic shortly before the downfall appear: The coalition was in the ecology, the savers would be expropriated - and after a few minutes she arrived at the refugee issue, where the federal government in the opinion of the AfD anyway everything wrong has made.
The tenor is different with the rest of the opposition: After FDP faction leader Christian Lindner has accused the Chancellor not to have met with the Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, he criticizes, inter alia, the financial management of SPD Finance Minister Scholz ("The black is long a red zero ") - but in the climate shows Lindner ready to talk. Merkel and her coalition want to achieve a kind of national consensus best. "We are ready to participate," says Lindner.
Kay Nietfeld / DPA
Green Party leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt: Under special observation
Left-wing parliamentary leader Dietmar Bartsch also criticizes the government's "lack of ideas" and wants more investment in the social sector and digitalization. Whether the left in terms of climate protection would be ready to talk, he leaves open.
Green parliamentary group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt, on the other hand, would like to discuss the right measures with regard to climate protection with the coalition - of course, it is far too little what the Union and SPD are currently considering. In any case, their group would negotiate an ambitious climate package with the German government, says Göring-Eckardt, who is under special observation this Wednesday: She and her co-chairman Anton Hofreiter are challenged in the upcoming parliamentary elections by Cem Özdemir and Kirsten Kappert-Gonther.
The Chancellor is back. Whether really as climate chancellor, is still uncertain. Although Merkel wants to show that this time she is really serious about climate protection - at the same time the CDU politician stresses that one must take the citizens with them. Because the concern in the GroKo is, especially in the Union, that possible climate policy impositions could promote the division of society if they do not meet with wide acceptance among the citizens. However, how CO2 pricing will work in the end, how tangible these and other measures will be for citizens, will probably only be decided on 20 September.
In the video: Merkel in the Bundestag
John MACDOUGALL / AFP