Germany’s Martin Schulz looks less and less like the savior of European social democracy.
His party performed poorly in North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday, the third state election this year in which the Social Democrats were bested by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
I argued here earlier in the week that North Rhine-Westphalia’s election was a crucial test for Schulz. It is the heartland of German social democracy: the biggest industrial state with four of Germany’s ten largest cities and a long history of trade unionism. The state has been governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens since 2010 under a popular state prime minister, Hannelore Kraft.
If Schulz couldn’t win here, then where can he? Read more
Social Democrats Face Crucial Test in North Rhine-Westphalia
After losing two state elections in as many months, Germany’s Social Democrats are desperate for a victory in North Rhine-Westphalia. A defeat there, in what is Germany’s industrial powerhouse and the heartland of social democracy, would be terrible for morale going into the federal elections in September. Read more
Coalition Politics Could Turn Moderate Germans Away from Schulz
Germany’s Social Democrats have shot up in the polls since they asked Martin Schulz, the former European Parliament chief, to lead them into September’s election. But they may yet lose some of their newfound popularity if voters start thinking through the consequences.
The Social Democrats are neck and neck with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the polls. Whereas the right enjoyed a comfortable 10- to 15-point lead through all of last year, it would now struggle to place first.
Schulz has drawn support from all sides: moderate Christian Democrats, Greens and even anti-establishment voters who were planning to support the Alternative für Deutschland before he joined the contest.
That first group is most likely to switch back once they realize the Social Democratic Party could govern without the right if it grows big enough. Read more
Germany’s Social Democrats are gaining ground on the once unassailable conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Since the party nominated Martin Schulz for the chancellorship last month, it has gone up in the polls. Whereas the Social Democrats were stuck in the low 20s for much of 2016, they have climbed up to nearly 30 percent support in the last few weeks.
One survey, released on Monday, even put the Social Democrats one point ahead of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Read more
European Social Democrats Warm to Coalitions with Far Left
The formation of an all-left city government in Berlin that includes the once-communist Die Linke follows a pattern: center-left parties across Europe are increasingly willing to team up with their rivals on the far left.
Germany’s Social Democrats shunned Die Linke for decades. The two parties disagree on EU and industrial policy, NATO membership, relations with Russia and welfare.
The alliance in Berlin is only the second time in German history the two have shared power. Read more
Gabriel Sacrifices TTIP to Save Trade Deal with Canada
German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel set off alarm bells this weekend when he said European talks for a trade accord with the United States have “de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.”
The European Commission, which is negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on behalf of the European Union’s 28 member states, rejected Gabriel’s assertion. A spokesperson said, “The ball is rolling right now and the commission is making steady progress in the ongoing TTIP negotiations.”
But other trade ministers shared the German’s skepticism.
France’s Matthias Fekl said on Tuesday he would formally call for an end of the negotiations next month. “There should be an absolute clear end so that we can restart them on good basis,” he said.
The Netherlands’ Lilianne Ploumen lamented that without further concessions from the Americans, “I don’t see it happening anymore.”
Her Italian counterpart, Carlo Calendo, agreed, saying the American position was still “unsatisfactory” and an agreement was unlikely before the end of Barack Obama’s presidency next year.
But Calendo also said he expects a deal to be done eventually. “The United States is our main economic and political partner. If we don’t negotiate with them,” he wondered, “whom else should we negotiate with?” Read more