Germany’s Social Democrats are making the same mistake as the Dutch Labor Party, I argue in the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper this week.
Like Labor, which went down from 25 to 6 percent support in the most recent election, the Social Democrats are trying to appeal to both working- and middle-class supporters. It is that indecision that is turning both groups away from them.
College-educated voters in the city see the benefits of open borders in Europe and free trade with the rest of the world. Low-skilled workers and small towns feel the downsides. Progressives obsess about gay rights and gender issues that animate few blue-collar voters. Read more
Center-Right Voters Eager to Govern in Germany, Center-Left Unsure
Center-right voters in Germany hope Angela Merkel’s next coalition government will unite her Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats. But if the Greens are needed for a majority, they could live with that, the latest Deutschlandtrend poll shows.
Green party voters are less interested in a three-party coalition but surprisingly supportive of a deal with the right: 68 percent would join a Merkel-led administration.
The Christian Democrats are almost certain to remain the largest party, but it’s unclear from the polls if the Free Democrats will win enough seats to form a two-party government.
The Social Democrats, the second largest party, aren’t desperate for another “grand coalition”. Half their voters would prefer to go into opposition rather than share power with Merkel for another four years. Read more
Comparing German Party Platforms Reveals Two Divides
Comparing the platforms of the six parties competing in the German election reveals two divides:
The first is between the traditional left and right on spending and taxes. The Social Democrats, Greens and far-left Die Linke want higher taxes on the wealthy to fund public investment. The Christian Democrats, liberal Free Democrats and nativist Alternative argue for tax cuts.
The second divide is between the four mainstream parties and the extremes on defense and foreign policy. The Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats all support closer European integration and NATO. The Alternative wants out of the euro. Die Linke would swap NATO for a security pact with Russia.
Here is a closer look at where the parties stand on defense, Europe, immigration, spending and taxes. Read more
Germany’s Social Democrats Need to Pick Side in Culture War
Social democrats across Europe are caught in the middle of a culture war: they have middle-class voters, many of them university-educated, whose economic and social views range from liberal to progressive, as well as working-class voters, whose views range from the conservative to the nativist.
Germany’s are trying to bridge this divide, but a report by the Financial Times from the heart of the Ruhr industrial area does not suggest they are succeeding.
Guido Reil, a coalminer from Essen and former town councilor for the Social Democrats who switched to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, says his old party has “lost its connection to real people.”
They don’t speak their language. They’re people who have never worked, they’re all careerists and professional politicians.
Blue-collar voters — a shrinking demographic — only make up 17 percent of the Social Democrats’ electorate anymore. Read more
Smart Policies, Wrong Vision from Germany’s Social Democrats
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