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SPD leaders Lars Klingbeil, Saskia Esken

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Michael Kappeler / dpa

Ahead of the SPD party congress in Berlin, chairman Lars Klingbeil has admitted a loss of confidence among the people in the traffic light coalition. "The government has also contributed to the uncertainty with the big dispute over the heating law, the dispute over basic child support. That's where we lost trust. We have to fight for that back," he told the editorial network Germany. People are massively unsettled," Klingbeil said in the double interview with SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken. Two years of pandemic, war, inflation, energy crisis, climate crisis."

"None of the three coalition parties can be stubborn now"

Esken said that "numerous crises" would weigh on the shoulders of citizens. People need confidence now." When asked why the delegates should re-elect her as chairwoman at the party congress in Berlin, Esken replied: "We reconciled the SPD with itself and led it to victory in the Bundestag elections." 600 delegates are expected to attend the party congress in Berlin from Friday to Sunday.

In the interview, Esken and Klingbeil called on the traffic light coalition to quickly agree on the 2024 federal budget. "The drafting of the federal budget following the Constitutional Court ruling must be completed as quickly as possible so that people can go into the well-deserved Christmas break with peace of mind," said Esken. "We know we're all going to move," Klingbeil added. "None of the three coalition parties can be stubborn now."

Klingbeil went on to say that the SPD was concerned about the poor poll ratings. However, the party learned in the 2021 federal election campaign that polls are not everything. In the ARD "Tagesthemen" on Thursday evening, he said with a view to the current budget crisis: "As far as the current negotiations are concerned, I am sure that this party congress will strengthen Olaf Scholz, the party and parliamentary group leadership."

In the midst of the budget crisis, the three-day SPD national party conference begins today in Berlin. To kick things off, the programme includes the election of party chairmen. The two current party leaders, Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil, are running again. Chancellor Olaf Scholz's speech on Saturday is eagerly awaited. He has to stand at the lectern without a finished budget in his pocket.

aka/dpa/AFP