Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The current dynamics within the SPD cannot solely be explained with the left/right wing power struggle between party factions. I would even go so far as to say that these alleged battles are almost negligible.

There's something more important happening. A process which transcends the left vs right dichotomy. I call it: The rediscovery of the SPD's soul.

What do I mean?

The wildly propagandised need for modernisation, the necessity for ' third way ' reforms had led in the past years to a growing disenchantment of the party base and many of its traditional voters. Perhaps not everybody knows it: but socialdemocrats still use to address each other by their forenames and by 'Du" instead of the formal 'Sie'. Tu instead of Vous. Socialdemocrats refer to each other as 'comrades' and not as Mr. and Mrs. like the other parties. This creates a particular atmosphere of collective wellbeing, something called the ' Old Aunty - SPD ' feeling. It emanates solidarity between equals. (UK Labour Party members will remember this.)Unfortunately Schröder and others had initially neglected this vital aspect of the SPD. Particularly during the first SPD/Grünen coalition when Schröder was photographed wearing Brioni suits and smoking big cigars.

People didn't like it. They couldn't relate to it.

But - over time - Schröder and Münte got the message azd reacted. They did away with seemingly unimportant things like the fancy 'modern' pop tunes played at part congresses and re-introduced the singing of old SPD battle hymns. "Wenn wir schreiten Seit' an Seit' ' - when we walk side by side... Müntes locust debate and Schröder's farewell to the Blairite 'third way' were only a consequent continuation of this.

And it worked - Schröder became the come - back - kid. Both Schröder and Münte began to talk to the 'soul' of the party. Which common wisdom attributes to a place on the left side of the body. The results were clear, the SPD made good on its all time low of 23% in the polls and gained support.

Now, here is were Nahles committed a arch sin in the eyes of the party base. Her move was perceived as an act of egoism, a breach of solidarity. Hence the unanymous condemnation of her candidature. Nobody saw it as a 'left' move. Nahles did not understand that Münte and Gerd S. are considered heroe - saints by the party base now.

Even the resignation from their positions has not weakened their standing in the SPD. On the contrary it has only pointed out to the base that both are ' straight shooters '. Starting with the locust debate they have become ever more strongly rooted within the party. During the last weeks of the election campaign Schröder almost grew into the role of Willy Brandt and began to walk in his shoes. Even his voice and gestures commanded the same 'gravitas'. It was astounding.

Now where do we go from here?

I see two possibilities: The first is that the grand coalition somehow works out o.k. and Platzeck soon becomes the new darling of the party. He can then run for the chancellory at the new elections. Schröder might then be nominated for the job of next president of the EU Commission.

The second possibility is that the grand coalition soon fails. At that point the SPD will still have the option to ' implore ' Schröder to come back and to lead the battle for the chancellory.

'Aunty SPD' has been re-surrected yet again and I don't see any Götterdämmerung on the horizon.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 09:03:54 AM EST
Excellent summary...I did not know this about the "soul" of the SPD. That's great...makes me feel even more warmly towards the party. Hmm, maybe even some disaffected SPD will came back in from the cold, so to speak...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 10:59:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "soul" is not only an SPD reality, it exists in the UK too. My city is twinned to a coal miners town in England and over the last 40 years we have established many friendships between the people of our cities. Mind you these contacts did not remain at the official level of delegations. On the contrary it led to friendships between coal miners, fire fighters, public administration workers, nurses, social workers, school kids etc.pp. I still remember the UK labour party members coming reguarlary to Germany. They would even venture for such 'jobs' as engaging in house to house canvassing, handing out leaflets etc. And we had social events too. Great stuff and very emotional, very heart felt moments  especially for the old comrades who had fought in the war when they found out that we share the same songs. Another touching 'soul' moment was the time when our English comrades defied the Thatcher policies during the long coal miners strike. We organised a several months long weekly shuttle service of food and clothes transports to our twin city and helped the coal miners union comrades to nourish the coal miners families in need. I also know of marriages which came out of the twinning. Our communion with the English labour party comrades was made on these bases, not on a ficticious 'free market' ideology.

Btw: I was given by our UK comrades a live long member ship card for the Association of English Working Men Clubs, which is fantastic since a pint of beer costs 10 pence less there.

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 02:21:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which town are you twinned with?
by PeWi on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 05:07:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819
by Ritter on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 05:08:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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