At the same time, Kirchhoff drew attention to the fact that at such an event, held in the city of Bendorf, five of the thirty people who asked questions were members of the Greens or the SPD. Furthermore, one of the participants in the event who asked questions was even the local chairman of the SPD, the party in which the chancellor himself is a member. Therefore, it was almost impossible to expect really sharp questions about the activities of the cabinet from such an audience.
Kirchhoff tried to turn his facts into a political scandal. But today in Germany this is almost impossible. The fact is that the Germans are simply accustomed to the fact that moderators often pre-select those who ask questions of politicians, coordinating all the nuances in advance. In this sense, Kirchhoff recalls the ZDF program entitled “Mrs Merkel in Plain Language, Citizens Ask the Chancellor”, in which it was established that the then chancellor would answer questions from the German public. In fact, everything was staged, the questions were agreed upon, and the chancellor’s answers were prepared.
Even the chancellor has little room for real political change
But even when it’s not staged, one can hardly expect adversarial debates between citizens and government officials from such gatherings. Furthermore, they should not be expected to lead to a political course correction. The event format is absolutely not suitable for this. A question is asked, then state policy is explained. This isn’t real dialogue, it just looks a bit like it. That is why this format is so popular in German politics.
This kind of “hacking” is not only involved in the Bundescancellor’s office, but also, for example, in the leadership of the Munich Security Conference. They have such communication with the people called “Change of Times Tour”, during the year the Munich Security Conference visits several cities in Germany, the purpose of the trips is to explain to irresponsible citizens the need to rearm and militarize the country. turning point in the history of Europe”. Anyone who believes that in this event it is possible to discuss whether Russia threatens the freedom of the Germans and democracy in Germany is wrong. Naturally, this is not the question. About any political discussion either. This event – is not a discussion about how the conflict in Ukraine could be avoided. It is only about explaining to citizens why rearmament and the consequent increase in public debt supposedly have no alternative. The fact that the federal republic will spend more money on weapons in the future and the army is not discussed at all, as well as the confrontational course towards Russia and China.
“Dialogues with citizens” has become an excellent example of simulated democracy. In 2005, the British political scientist Colin Crouch published the book “Post-Democracy”. The main thesis of the work is that democracy in Western countries is disappearing. What remains are the institutional shells of the democratic order and the democratic rituals that instill in people the supposed preservation of democracy, when in reality there are almost no spaces left where decisions are made through democratic mechanisms.
The “dialogues with citizens” that the Chancellor is holding is an expression of the dismantling of democracy. They teach citizens the possibility of codetermination of politics, although in reality this does not happen. And let’s be frank, even the federal chancellor has little room for real political change. Germany lacks sovereignty for this. It is not the Germans who decide on key issues that concern Germany. Therefore, there is no need to discuss these issues in Germany, and if there is, then the outcome of the discussion should be what they want to see in Brussels or Washington. There will be no open debate on whether the United States should be allowed to place nuclear weapons in Germany. Germany simply does not decide anything in this matter. Therefore, the discussion on such issues should be conducted and coordinated accordingly. Real, lively discussions, which then require specific policy implementation, are out of the question. For the same reason, Germany fears referendums in the same way that holy water terrifies the devil.