“You can reform a party while it’s in the government — and I intend to prove it starting tomorrow,” Nahles told delegates today in Wiesbaden. @chaseongermany on the challenges Andrea Nahles faces trying to reform, lead and unite Germany’s @spdde#spdbpt https://t.co/xQgFBNWPe9
— dwnews (@dwnews) April 22, 2018
On 22 April, German Broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the news that after less than a year ago, the German Social Democrats have gotten rid of Martin Schulz. Schulz was the longtime president of the European Parliament, SPD party leader and chancellor candidate. In 2017, he was hailed as the man who would
take the fall after the disastrous results of the coming election bring great success to the struggling SPD. Schulz clearly failed in his mission. Instead of the expected gains, the so-called ‘Schulz effect’,
“the SPD barely cracked 20 percent in the 2017 national elections and has sunk to as low as 17 percent in opinion polls.“
After initially taking the election results as a sign that the SPD should not enter government, SPD party leaders later decided to join Merkel’s CDU and the CDU’s sister party CSU in government. Schulz said he would not serve in a government with Merkel, then decided he would (as Minister of Foreign Affairs), before facing an open rebellion within his party and deciding, after all, that he wouldn’t. That he is now replaced, should come as no surprise
He is succeeded by Andrea Nahles, who claims that the SPD’s defeat was from the party failing to tell voters how it intended to achieve its goals. She then went on, according to DW, to tell SPD members:
“In my opinion, there is only one paradigm: solidarity. Solidarity is one of the main things missing in this globalized, neoliberal turbocharged world.“
DW gives no indication that Nahles explained how she was going to achieve this solidarity, or how ‘solidarity’ actually works as a paradigm.
Schulz, meanwhile, is said to have “showed the sort of magnanimity he often lacked in defeat during and immediately after the campaign.” He showed this ‘magnanimity’ by telling reporters that he’s leaving the SPD leadership without any anger or bitterness, which wouldn’t do any good anyway. That anger and bitterness he apparently reserved for voters everywhere, when the “ardent social democrat” tweeted:
“Without a strong Europe, the populists win – and then there will be war. In Germany, it is up to the SPD [Social Democrats] to prevent that. We have, in the coalition agreement, decided on a [new] start for Europe, that [start] must come now. To that start, I want to contribute, in the future as well.“
Ohne ein starkes Europa gewinnen die Populisten – und dann gibt es Krieg. In Deutschland liegt es an der SPD, das zu verhindern. Wir haben im Koalitionsvertrag einen Aufbruch für Europa beschlossen, der muss jetzt kommen. Dazu will ich auch in Zukunft meinen Beitrag leisten.
— Martin Schulz (@MartinSchulz) April 22, 2018
Martin Schulz is somewhat of a sore loser. There is no other way to see this tweet. One might even call it a populist tweet. In an article in Der Spiegel asked:”is Martin Schulz a populist?” In answering the question, it mentioned 5 forms of populism, which it describes as: ‘making things simple’, ‘identification’, ‘ignorance’, ‘fearmongering’ and ‘introducing bogeymen’. Der Spiegel writes that
“The SPD-candidate for the position of Chancellor has started as a good populist. As one, who is able to empathise with the concerns of ordinary citizens, but doesn’t shy away from unpopular themes.“
The magazine goes on to warn, that Schulz in 2017 was in the process of falling prey to ‘ignorance’. A few months later, Schulz is a fearmonger, and his bogeymen are, ironically, since he now fits the description himself perfectly, populists. Someone with a sense of humour would maybe say “welcome to the Dark Side, Martin, we have cookies.” But this is German humour. And German humour is no laughing matter.