SPD: More socialism car?


After ten years of crisis, the SPD is struggling to find relevance. Led by Kevin Kühnert, the Jusos suggest a radical left turn. If this is the solution for Germany’s oldest party, wanted to DW-author Austin Davis know.

Spellbound the listeners listen to in the Old Congress hall in Munich, in the words of Kevin Kühnert. As Federal Chairman of the young socialists, he holds the opening speech at the “left turn Congress 2019”.

Kühnert draws Parallels between today and 1969, the year in which Willy Brandt, the first social democratic Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany was. According to Kevin Kühnert, the return was on the “democratic socialism,” the turning point. In the same year, the newly elected SPD Chancellor Willy Brandt with his famous words said: “We want to dare more democracy.”

Today, the Jusos is a call for more socialism. That’s why radicalism is accused of not bothering Kühnert. In his eyes, the social conditions are rather radical and are called, among other things, the global distribution of wealth, the exploitation of nature and the EU-refugee policy in Brussels, “only casual with the shoulders shrugs, when hundreds or thousands in the Mediterranean, drowning the sea”.

Provocative: Kevin Kühnert, Federal Chairman of the young socialists (Jusos)

Because of the updraft

The moderate Left is in the ascendant? On the contrary, says Klaus Dörre, University of Jena, “I can see the whole of the European social democracy is in an existential crisis.” If digitization or human rights – social democracy find no answers to the pressing questions of the time. Most of these parties focused on eligibility, instead of on substance. So, it is also that the social Democrats in Denmark have similar notions of migration policy, such as the right-wing Danish people’s party.

The SPD, says the political scientist Dörre, be distinguished after ten years of Great coalition in the 14 years of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship in the eyes of many German hardly from the Christian Democrats to. In the light of 15.8 percent of the vote for the German social Democrats in the EU election in may, a sociologist, argues: “In Germany the term has become social-democracy is meaningless.”

This was not always so, says the 85-year-old Marianne at a barbecue reception in the SPD Department of schöneberg. It is since 1953 a member of the SPD, after she was with her father in front of the socialism in the GDR after North Rhine-Westphalia fled. She remembers the solidarity with the Weak of the society at the time: “It was my duty to stand up for justice, to support the workforce, and equal rights.” Today, listen to the guide is no longer locking to the voters is simple. “You are with your whole heart. You no longer fight as before,” says the Old comrade.

Campaign poster 1969: With the Federal Chancellor, Willy Brandt (li.) started 50 years ago for the SPD the Golden 1970s

Candidates, desperately looking for

After the crushing defeat in the EU elections and the resignation of SPD Leader Andrea Nahles is looking for the party, now a double top for a social democratic Comeback. The decision should fall on the Federal party Congress in December. So far, the number of candidates is manageable: Christina Kampmann, former Minister of family Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Michael Roth, since 2013, Minister of state for Europe at the Federal foreign office.

Meanwhile, Kevin Kühnert has been thinking aloud about a candidacy. The reactions to his open flirtation with the collectivization of large corporations in an Interview with the weekly newspaper “die Zeit” were not for SPD-conditions bad: After all, 24.4% of the participants in an opinion survey of the company Civey on mirror Online-rated Kühnerts theses positive.

But Gero Neugebauer of the Free University of Berlin says, Kühnerts commitment to align the SPD socialist, could benefit the party more harm than good. The SPD need someone New at the helm – someone who has no connection to the coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel, writes the political scientist.

Kühnert was a figurehead, which have brought a lot of life into the discussion. “But,” says Neugebauer, “a figurehead can not control the ship.” Kühnert not have the qualities that a party-need Chairman, the majority of the 400,000 SPD-represented members. The new SPD, says Neugebauer, must be a socialist, but not radically.