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SPD politician Schwan: "The party leaders make sure that everyone supports Olaf Scholz"

Photo: Frank Gaeth / IMAGO

In the SPD, there is criticism of the leadership style and the culture of debate in the party. In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, four well-known representatives of the party now express their displeasure. Among them are

  • the two still active members of the Bundestag Michael Roth and Ralf Stegner,

  • the head of the Fundamental Values Commission, Gesine Schwan,

  • and former SPD party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans.

"The party leaders are making sure that everyone supports Olaf Scholz so that the government is not over after four years," Schwan said. In the long run, however, this cannot be the solution. "The SPD must not become a chancellor election club."

The SPD dual leadership of Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil was confirmed in office for another two years at the party congress in Berlin at the beginning of December. Esken received 82.6 percent of the delegate votes, Klingbeil 85.6 percent. For Esken, the result was better than two years ago, but slightly worse for Klingbeil.

Roth, a foreign policy expert, said he was "not so happy" about the cooperative attitude of the party leadership towards the Chancellery. The understandable desire for unity must not be allowed to stifle the necessary debates about the right course." This also does not fit in with "a party like the SPD that likes to debate," Roth said.

"At the moment, people appreciate that there is no dispute," said Stegner, who himself was the party's deputy federal chairman from 2014 to 2019. "In the long run, the party cannot do without orientation, which grows out of passion."

According to the newspaper, former party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans suspects that the party leadership will change. "This constellation will not remain like this. But it won't be completely like it used to be, because something has changed culturally," says Walter-Borjans. In his view, the party needs more strong, charismatic leaders. "Someone people believe: He has a clue. He's making an appearance. He radiates that he can lead us through this jungle. We don't have enough of them."

The party – as well as its coalition partners the Greens and FDP – is currently struggling with weak poll ratings. The surveys suggest that the SPD may have suffered the biggest losses of the traffic light partners compared to the result in the 2021 federal election. According to the survey, the CDU is currently clearly ahead in terms of voter favour, followed by the AfD.