160 years of social democracy in Germany
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) is celebrating the 160th anniversary of the founding, making it the oldest party in Germany. At the ceremony marking the occasion SPD Chancellor Olaf Scholz championed the fight for a ‘society of respect’ and described the climate-friendly restructuring of the economy as a historic challenge. Commentators examine why the SPD, dubbed the country’s "old aunt", is on a downwards slide in the polls.
Grey and voiceless
The SPD is alienating centrist voters with its attempts to please the Greens, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
“At some point on his steep career path Scholz must have lost sight of the idea of what he really wanted to achieve in this office — because his chancellorship is at least as grey and voiceless as Merkel’s. ... The SPD has submitted to the eco-narrative and adopted the favourite socio-political themes of the Greens such as ‘anti-racism’ and ‘queer politics’. This greening of social democracy, however, is scaring away the centrist voters whom ex-Chancellor Schröder once successfully attracted.”
Betraying the workers?
Social democracy is steadily losing influence and members across Europe, Večernji list notes:
“The disintegration of European social democracy has mainly benefited the parties of the new left, which have emerged in a number of European countries, especially those that were hard hit by the financial and debt crisis. The social democratic parties have turned their backs on their previous core issues and traditional voters, the workers, in recent decades and have failed to find new ones in the meantime. That is why they are currently losing their strongholds even in traditionally social democratic Scandinavia, while in the rest of Europe the only places they are in power are Germany and the Iberian Peninsula.”
Dare to present more visions
Overall, the SPD has become a bit boring, the Tagesspiegel asserts:
“Where on earth has the strident utopianism gone? Where are the once popular excursions into the lofty realm of dreams? In the face of a chancellor who is more a state notary than a leader, the SPD’s character as a party with a programme is wasting away. ... More than ever it needs concepts with which it can inspire confidence in the future, and inspire itself. Yes, it can argue about what may seem like audacious ideas to this end, and yes, it can dare to create more visions. Pragmatism and the chancellorship may be enough for the CDU. For the SPD this is clearly too little.”