Hubert Aiwanger is followed with a syringe - and he gives a remarkable speech.
A story about the most famous prick refuser in the republic.
Unterwössen - 45 minutes after Hubert Aiwanger, 50, was supposed to be forcibly vaccinated on the Agers-gschwend-Alm, he sits on the terrace and admires the mountains.
1040 meters in altitude, deepest Chiemgau, sensational view, if it weren't for those nasty clouds.
Fortunately, there are still lush Bavarian meadows, 25 cows and cold beer for the hikers, but unfortunately sometimes also wolves, at least from the perspective of the alpine farmers.
All important issues, also politically.
But Bavaria's Minister of Economic Affairs has to talk about Corona again.
About his deliberate non-vaccination, which Prime Minister Markus Söder revealed to the whole republic.
Since then, Aiwanger has been competing with Sahra Wagenknecht and Daniela Katzenberger for the title of the most famous vaccinator in the country.
Trend in the last few days: Aiwanger is ahead.
He's the anti-prick of the hour.
The only question is: Will that even carry him to the Bundestag or is there a risk of crash landing?
Coalition dispute in Bavaria: Hubert Aiwanger insists on refusal to vaccinate "fundamental right to freedom"
"It's not just about me," says the head of the Free Voters on the Alm. Are you in a mood? Medium good. He would now prefer to talk about Bavaria as a tourist location, the wolf or, if necessary, about slatted floors in the pigsty. They are topics that he, the down-to-earth, trained farmer, knows his way around. Other unvaccinated people, he then says, are also confronted with suitable or inappropriate arguments at the regulars' table, in the club, in the company. “Even if you are not vaccinated you shouldn't have to justify yourself all the time. It is a fundamental right to freedom whether you want to be vaccinated or not. "
The Vice-Prime Minister, who has so far supported all the most drastic Corona measures, claims the right that his decision of conscience should be valued higher than the advice of reputable virologists worldwide.
He has never publicly revealed why exactly he does not get vaccinated.
“Cheap calculation” and “lateral thinker level”: what Söder, Dobrindt and Kreuzer think of the CSU
You can find that brave, but also solitary.
Or just devastating.
The CSU top has already suggested that he resign.
CSU parliamentary group leader Thomas Kreuzer accuses him of “cheap calculation”.
State group leader Alexander Dobrindt complains that Aiwanger has reached “lateral thinker level” in style and language.
Prime Minister Söder, the meanest form of criticism, frowns at every question about Aiwanger and whispers, “I'm worried about him”.
The conflict is building up.
Do you feel bullied by your coalition partner, Mr Aiwanger?
“I like the topic,” he says on the alpine pasture, “don't go into depth any more.” Are you in a mood?
Meanwhile at least grumped.
Aiwanger is hunted with corona vaccination - "Hubert, now do a Radler-Spritzn!"
It's not a nice morning for him anyway. This also has to do with the CSU member of the state parliament Klaus Steiner, 67, from overseas. He followed Aiwanger to the Alm. The main alpine tour is the name of today's date, at which the Upper Bavarian Alpine Farming Association has invited to a five-hour hike to Unterwössen in the Traunstein district in the early morning. Alpine farmers and women farmers, the milk princess, but also wolf officers and conservation experts take part. The mood is lively despite the rain.
There are pretzels and a hand sausage for refreshment, musicians in lederhosen play.
The Vice-Prime Minister is supposed to give the greeting, but before that Klaus Steiner stalks Aiwanger shortly before the Agersgschwend-Alm.
Suddenly he pulls out a still wrapped syringe - and shouts: "Hubert, now do a Radler-Spritzn!" Aiwanger is taken by surprise, he dodges into the wet meadow and almost runs away from Steiner.
CSU man Steiner talks about Corona experiences - Aiwanger's statements "irresponsible"
The CSU man doesn't really want to ram a syringe with Bavarian mixed beer into his arm, of course, but Steiner is deadly serious. “I myself have severe corona damage,” he says later. In February, Covid-19 caught him, three days he was lacking air to breathe. He thinks about dying. “I have massive long-term effects,” Steiner says today. "I have absolutely no understanding when someone says: 'To vaccinate, that is his private decision.' What Aiwanger does is not possible. Irresponsible. A deputy prime minister has a role model function. "
Aiwanger is in a critical position in his career.
About the vaccination, it kind of escalated.
At first it wasn't Aiwanger who wanted to make Pieks' private matter public: Söder exposed him in an ongoing press conference.
A giant media vortex built up within a few days.
“Impf und Schande”, was the headline of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on its special page about Aiwanger. Suddenly international newspapers asked for an interview.
The “Financial Times” reported on this “deputy premier” from Bavaria, who imagined “massive side effects” when vaccinating;
this is the translation of his controversial sentence about "side effects, you will stay away from it".
Bavaria: Aiwanger struggles with sudden prominence - criticism from business and its own party
Aiwanger enjoys and struggles. He enjoys the prominence because he is right in the middle of the election campaign. As a nationwide top candidate and party leader, he wants to heave the free voters over five percent and into the Bundestag for the first time in history. It would be a sensation and he, who (wrongly) ridiculed Niederbayer for his dialect and rural origin, belittled as “Hubsi”, would be a hero. If it is only enough for four percent, that's right - the federal government pays one euro election campaign reimbursement per vote.
And Aiwanger quarrels because he is offensive.
He endures the cursing CSU, even Steiner with the syringe, but the internal anger is dangerous.
The vast majority of the free voter base are not vaccine-skeptical.
His commitment to openings and loosening is respected, but his fight against the prick alienates his own people.
The first local politicians are already calling for his resignation.
It's breaking a taboo: Aiwanger made the party big, expanded it, was a kind of multi-boss.
And in addition, bitter for an economics minister, there is tough, angry criticism from Bavaria's economy.
He thwarted the vaccination campaign, the only way out of the pandemic.
Vaccination dispute in Bavaria: will Markus Söder swap Aiwanger and the Free Voters for the Greens?
Aiwanger is powerful, the second most important man in Bavaria's government, service BMW, speakers, personal protection around the clock - but if your own party lets you fall, that's quickly gone. Or if the coalition breaks? If Söder says: Schleich di, Hubert, I'm looking for green partners?
Thomas von Sarnowski, the new boss of the Bavarian Greens, wears hiking boots. He is also present on the alpine tour. On the way to the first alp of the day, he says that this week he was at the local association of the Greens in Traunstein, which has 54 members. He asked his fellow party members if they were vaccinated. Result: 92 percent are vaccinated. "That is significantly more than at the head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs," says von Sarnowski, 33. The poison arrows that are flying on Aiwanger from almost all political camps can hardly be counted any more. Nevertheless, the Green leader does not believe that the coalition in Bavaria will be torn apart - because the CSU cannot be interested in it either. The Greens are no cozier partner than Aiwanger, with or without a prick.
Sarnowski marches off, but he wants to get rid of something first.
“As a farmer, Aiwanger knows for sure that vaccinations are helpful in preventing the spread of disease.
Every individual who is vaccinated is a great contribution to the community. "
The eternal vaccination topic: Hubert Aiwanger on the "backbone of the Free State"
There is hardly an appointment on which Aiwanger does not have to defend himself. But on the alpine pasture he gives another remarkable speech off the cuff. He can do that. Anyone who thinks he is a slightly stupid hillbilly should know that few in the state parliament give such sharp, free speeches as he does. "Alpine farmers are people who have gotten through in a difficult environment," he says. “Even if you are now a minority - and suddenly the majority are in the majority who have not yet seen a cow up close. But they tell you how to treat a cow. The mountain farmer is also an increasingly threatened species. But you are the backbone of the Free State. You can make a state with people like you. "
If you exchange the words Bergbauer for vaccination skeptics, you could almost think that Aiwanger had just given a speech about himself.
But that's just a coincidence.
In these crazy times, things suddenly come together that don't really belong together.
Herd protection - that is a term that every alpine farmer, but also every epidemiologist, can do something with.
Only Aiwanger interprets this in his own way - with distance and tests instead of syringes.
After the speech, the minister lets himself be driven down from the mountain pasture.
The alpine farmers move on.
The next station is the Weitalm right at the Hochgern summit.
Aiwanger has long been in the valley.
He still has an appointment with “Maischberger” that day.
There, too, it will not be about slatted floors.
Audience: over 1.3 million people.
(Christian Deutschländer / Stefan Sessler)