When Germany elects a new government on September 26, the average age of voters may be over 50, but a week and a half before Election Day it is the children who ask the tough questions of the candidates they want. take the place of Angela Merkel.
Armin Laschet, from the outgoing chancellor’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and Olaf Scholz, from the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), were left shifting in their seats in what has been hailed as their toughest interrogation of the campaign. . trail – at the hands of two 11-year-old boys.
For the interviews, which were screened as part of the comedy show Late Night Berlin by private broadcaster ProSieben on Tuesday night, the two favorites faced a roller coaster of high and low questions in the harmless setting of a yurt adorned with pennants.
Questions like “What would they call you if you were a dragon?” and “Do you sometimes build a cave when you want to be alone?” they were interspersed with forceful polls of the candidates’ positions on Russian foreign policy, civil protest, and dealing with radical delegates in their own ranks.
One of the children, Romeo, asked Laschet, whose party luck has drastically declined since he was filmed laughing in the background as Germany’s president delivered a solemn address to the victims of this summer’s devastating floods, why he was he had laughed.
“Because someone made a stupid comment,” Laschet said. “That was stupid.”
“Can you become chancellor if you don’t know how to behave?” Asked Pauline, Romeo’s co-interviewer. “No,” Laschet replied impatiently. “But I know how to behave.”
The children also endangered Laschet for his stance on Hans-Georg Maaßen, a former head of Germany’s national intelligence agency who has redesigned himself as a right-wing social media agitator and is now running for the CDU. in Thuringia. Laschet, while insisting that he disagrees with Maaßen on various issues, has refused to publicly condemn him, saying it is up to his electorate to deliver a verdict.
“Is Maaßen a right-winger?” Romeo asked. “Do you know him?” Laschet replied. “Yes,” Romeo replied.
“And why is he a right-winger?” Laschet returned the question. “I’m asking you that,” Romeo insisted calmly.
“If someone says they are a Nazi, it is unfair,” Laschet said after a pause. “The Nazis are not allowed to be at the party,” he added, and tried to lead the children to the next question.
Laschet was also questioned about his cigar smoking, which Romeo said was “very unhealthy.” “Yes, that’s true,” Laschet replied, pursing his lips. “But many things are not healthy. I don’t inhale. “
Laschet’s performance is unlikely to improve his chances in the Sept. 26 national vote, with the latest polls placing the CDU between five and six percentage points behind Scholz’s Social Democrats.
But Scholz it was not covered in glory either, struggling to answer children’s casual questions while addressing an adult audience.
When asked why people called him “Scholzomat”, Scholz said that this used to be his nickname because he always gave the same answers. “That might be necessary, but not so smart.”
Romeo then asked him if Vladimir Putin was a murderer. “Putin is someone who is responsible for the fact that many people in Russia have their lives threatened,” Scholz said, diplomatically. “Are you talking about Scholzomat again?” Romeo asked.
Romeo and Pauline’s interview with the green candidate, Annalena Baerbock, will screen next week.
Right-wing media have criticized the show, whose host, Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, has previously supported the SPD, for using children to ask questions of adults. The producers of the show admitted that the two interviewers wore headphones during the interview.
“To conduct an exciting interview, Pauline and Romeo must prepare in the same way as established journalists,” said a ProSieben spokesperson. “Both receive editorial support in this task.”
Other child interviewers in this election campaign have managed to expose clueless politicians. On an interview for the children’s news programs oLogo!Young Alexander asked Tino Chrupalla, co-chair of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland, what he meant when he said his party wanted more “German cultural properties” taught in German schools.
When Chrupalla said he wanted more schoolchildren to learn German folk songs and poems, Alexander said, “I think we already have to learn a lot of poems by heart,” and asked the AfD politician what his favorite poem was.
“My favorite poem is, erm, I’d have to think about that, I’m struggling to think of one right now,” Chrupalla said.
Later, Alexander told the German media that he had not tried to set a trap with his question. “I really didn’t expect that he couldn’t answer that,” he said.