Friedrich Merz, the leader of the CDU party in opposition, claimed the Chancellor “lacked any idea of how the country should develop in the coming years”.
The CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, the CSU, also had harsh words in response to Mr Scholz’s speech, branding it a “complete disappointment”.
Markus Soeder, the head of the CSU party, said the speech was more akin to a “eulogy” in parliament for Mr Scholz’s coalition, especially due to the muted reaction from his allies and heckling from rivals.
“I thought…maybe he is a fighter, not a heavyweight perhaps but a boxer, who gets attacked and then says, ‘now I will go in the ring’,” Mr Soeder said. “But yesterday was a kind of eulogy, it had nothing to do with that. I got the feeling that the German parliament had been anaesthetised, I thought it was false.”
In addition to the “know-it-all” jibe, Mr Scholz was branded a “plumber of power” by Mr Merz this week, an insult that suggested he can only offer small technical solutions to major strategic challenges.
Mr Scholz and his allies quickly retorted that plumbing was a noble profession and a good description of their efforts to get “stuck in” and fix the country’s finances.
At the same time, public support for the so-called traffic light [Ampel] coalition led by Mr Scholz continues to wane, according to a recent survey published by the German tabloid Bild.
“The chancellor is massively falling in the polls,” warned Bild, citing figures from the INSA research body which found that he has slipped to being the 17th most popular figure in German politics.
The budget crisis has led to some calls for Mr Scholz to loosen debt limits to make the state more nimble in responding to unexpected challenges – such as the initial constitutional court ruling that blocked his funding plans.
But his coalition includes the fiscally conservative FDP party, which is reluctant to take on additional debt, while such a move also risks being blocked by Right-wing opposition parties.
Mr Scholz is also facing a potential Christmas security crisis, with the country’s intelligence agencies warning there is a huge risk of Islamic extremist terror attacks occurring in the coming days.
German police have already foiled two terror plots in the past week alone. The first involved two teenagers allegedly plotting a December 1 attack on a synagogue and Christmas market, while the second involved a 20-year-old male.