Germany: What the SPD Face Under a Potential New Leader

Martin Schulz, SPD leader in waiting? Photo: Wiki Commons.
Martin Schulz, SPD leader in waiting? Photo: Wiki Commons.

By Robbie Morrissey

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD)  have spoken of their intention to name Martin Schulz as front-runner to lead the party as successor to Sigmar Gabriel in the forthcoming German Elections in September this year.

Deutsche Welle reports the expected nomination is due to be voted on in March at a party conference.

Coming across as some sort of Transformer type, Schulz has promised; “to fight while standing, sitting, or lying on water, land and in the air” according to The Economist. He is expected to be the main contestant against current German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Schulz might stand up pretty well in debates, as former EU Parliament President, but little is known about his stance on domestic issues. He had been considered as a candidate in German politics since his declaration to not seek re-election in Europe.

Recent polls also show that Schulz is quite popular amongst those surveyed, indicating a 41% tie with Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel. Yet, it is unlikely that either will be directly elected and unable to form a coalition to remove Mrs Merkel from power. The anti-immigrant party that is Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) has risen in the polls, while Schulz’s SPD has been in talks to break the coalition with the CDU by exploring ties with the Greens and the hardline Left party according to Reuters.

What is next for Schulz?

His endorsement by the party is likely to result in his election as the SPD‘s candidate. So what is next for Martin Schulz? Well, a series of public debates should follow prior to voting in September 2017, which is where voters will know more about his policies and that of his opponents. Reuters, Deutsche Welle, The Economist and more expect the AfD to pick at his ties to EU bureaucracy, while he is expected to structure a plan around social policies and Eurocentric ideologies in his campaign.

Other parties have either welcomed his expected leadership or played down his “premature birth” of candidacy following last week’s SDP shake-up.

It is difficult to predict if Schulz and the SDP are capable of mounting a grand comeback. ‘Historically low levels of support’ for the party are expected to be eaten up by the AfD while the public has become increasingly displeased in what seems a resurgent ‘rise in nationalism and anger with policies or lack of from Brussels’.

 

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