Everything is going well for the German Social Democrats (SPD). They won the parliamentary elections on September 26 and are now negotiating the formation of a coalition government with the Greens and the Liberals (FDP), under the current Vice Chancellor Olaf Soltz. An extraordinary congress of Social Democrats will be convened on December 4 to approve the agreement, and, unexpectedly, the Soltz government will be sworn in on December 6.
“Horses do not change in the middle of the race,” says the well-known opinion, but the SPD chooses a different path. The December congress should also highlight the new leadership of the party after the recent departure of Norbert Walter-Bourgeois, who from 2019 held the presidency of the SPD, together with Saskia Esken. Esken remains, while the current general secretary of the party, Lars Klingbaile, is running for the position of Walter-Bourjans. This provides for a unanimous decision of the SPD presidency, announced on Monday.
Few believed in electoral victory
Klingbale, just 43, is considered the “architect” of the SPD’s election success in September. The election campaign he devised, focusing exclusively on the face of Chancellor-designate Olaf Soltz, went unexpectedly. The election staff at Willy Brandt Haus, the SPD “headquarters” in Berlin, worked effectively. The leadership of a party, formerly known for its internal strife and controversy, has shown unprecedented sympathy and determination to win. All this is not at all self-evident, when in fact six months before the ballot box the SPD rarely exceeded 15% in the polls.
Then, however, the opponent began to make one mistake after another. As general secretary of the SPD, Lars Klingbail did not rush to respond immediately and received internal criticism for this. He was accused of not being an “aggressive guy”, of not having the necessary enforcement force. It was probably not the first time. “I have been criticized many times that, although I am the general secretary of the party, I do not seek controversy,” he told Die Zeit a year ago. “I did not, because such behavior does not correspond either to my perception of my role or to my character.” After all, Klingbell said, “people – not just in the SPD – are tired of the crooks. This is a completely outdated notion of politics.”
In Parliament with … piercings
Lars Klingbaile is considered a friendly, friendly and adaptable character. He grew up in Münster, Lower Saxony, where his father was a military man and his mother a private. During his student years, he took to the streets to protest against the educational policy of the Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder. And yet, very quickly, as a political science student, he found himself working in the political office of Gerhard Schroeder, with whom he maintains a friendly relationship to this day. In 2005, at the age of just 27, he was first elected to the Federal Parliament and appeared in plenary with a piercing in his left eyebrow. The then head of K.O. of the party undertook to introduce him to the others, saying: “Lars is of the socialist youth, it seems after all …” After a while the piercing disappeared.
Secretary-General for … eight presidents
In 2017, Lars Klingbail was elected general secretary of the SPD. In the four years that followed, he managed to work with … eight presidents of the party (if we include the incumbents) and in fact so harmoniously, that whoever left unreservedly recommended him to his successor. “I am very pleased to work with him,” SPD co-chairwoman Saskia Esken said on Monday, adding that she particularly appreciated the “positive aura” of the new leadership candidate. Speaking on YouTube, Klingbail himself recalled that as general secretary he had promised to “change everything” in the SPD and that under his leadership, the Social Democrats had become the first political force, from the previous one. “But we have to keep going, just one election victory is not enough,” he said.
Ultimately, the success of the SPD will depend on whether the party can maintain its unity. Now the balance is changing, as Klingbail is considered to be the representative of the most conservative wing of the party, while Esken and Walter-Bourjans belong to the left part of the SPD. “I will continue to work to modernize the SPD and highlight the hard core of our agenda,” Esken said, apparently referring to the party’s left-wing agenda. Klingbaile moves in a different context. In Parliament he focuses on defense policy and the digital economy. It consents to the use of unmanned aircraft by the German federal army, which is rejected by the left wing. On the other hand, Klingbaile knows how to work even with those who follow a different line. For example, he has excellent relations with the former president of the Socialist Youth, Kevin Kinnert, who is considered an outstanding representative of the left wing and was elected for the first time in Parliament this year, while his name is heard for the position of general secretary, ie for the succession. of Klingbail.
Going to the chancellery, Olaf Soltz creates a new, strong social democratic pole of power there. How harmonious will the cooperation be? For many years the prevailing view in the SPD was that the chancellor should also be the president of the party. But future Chancellor Soltz did not even want to claim party leadership. Maybe because he knows in advance that it is impossible to fully impose himself on the left wing. For his part, Klingbail. in his latest videotaped message, he addresses a message of unity and warns: “Wherever each of us is – in the chancellery, in the government, in the parliamentary group, in the federal states or in the party – he must not forget that we are all fighting together. And we mark always and exclusively the opponent’s goal … ”
Sabine Kincarts Curator: Giannis Papadimitriou
Source: Deutsche Welle
Source From: Capital