Correspondent in Berlin
Intentionally distancing itself from the chaotic conservative nomination, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) recognized its own candidate this weekend in a Bulgarian vote, in which Olaf Scholz, Deputy Chancellor of Merkel and Minister of Finance of the Grand Coalition, has obtained the support of 96.2% of the votes in a virtual congress organized ad hoc. Scholz has presented the bases of an electoral campaign that will be based on four fundamental points: green mobility, social protection of the climate, digitization and a fairer health system. “I want to lead a government that moves our country forward,” he announced, “I will fight for a minimum wage raised to twelve euros and a fairer tax system.” In the residential construction sector, it promises 400,000 new apartments a year, 100,000 of them in social housing. “We have a plan, we want to set the course, we want to lead the country towards the future and we know that this requires a commitment to a policy of respect and progress, as well as a social democrat in the Foreign Ministry,” he summarized.
Among the thrown weapons in her arsenal is Merkel’s accusation of the CDU of endangering Germany as a commercial plaza. «Another government led by the CDU would be a risk to prosperityand employment, a risk of location for our country, “he warned, apologizing that his party had wanted to do much more in the last legislature, but it was impossible due to the conservative blockade. That is, although he has not recognized it, the main problem of his campaign: after having governed in several great coalition legislatures with Merkel, it is very difficult for the SPD now to take a critical position with the conservatives. Once he has delivered his speech, it seems clear that he will try to make a virtue of necessity and present his participation in Merkel’s governments as a guarantee of know-how.
“I am running as a candidate for the post of chancellor because I am sure I know how to do it,” he said, convinced that he can contribute “strength, experience and ideas”, but in reality Scholz will face a renewed SPD in which the political figures who have co-governed in the Merkel era have barely survived and are now dominated by a far more radical and unreliable wing, for which the candidate assumes a moderate and presentable face. Both the new shared presidency and the entry into the executive of the until recently president of the Social Democratic youths, the ‘Jusos’, Kevin Kühnert, ensure a greater degree of radicalism. Kühner is giving interviews in which he assures that “we are going to take the limit to the prices of the rent at federal level”, advancing that he will be the extremist counterpart of the temperate Scholz.
Schoz will campaign for the rebuilding of a new automotive industry in Germany and the strengthening of local and long-distance public transport; will advocate for a restructuring of the economy towards climate neutrality make it socially acceptable, for example by involving owners in increasing CO2 costs; propose the elimination of digitalization deadlocks, so that new business models of the 21st century are possible; and it will promise improvements in the health system that will make it possible to face the next crisis with sufficient medical resources.
Scholz had already been appointed as a candidate for chancellor by the party’s executive in August last year, so this congress was limited to staging the starting gun of the Social Democratic pre-campaign. “Today is the first day of our race to catch up on federal elections,” Secretary General Lars Klingbeil said at the start of the digital event. Germany faces a directional decision between a “progressive government” of Scholz or a “conservative lethargy”said party leader Saskia Esken. At the moment, however, it seems too optimistic to think that Scholz could become chancellor, with between 14% and 16% in the polls and more than 10 points behind, both from the CDU and the Greens.
The congress has also served to toughen the climate objectives of the electoral program. Germany should be “completely climate neutral” by 2045 at the latest, delegates have decided with an agreement of around 95%. By 2030, greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 65% compared to 1990 levels. This is how the SPD program is adapted to the recent ruling of the German Constitutional Court, according to which the Climate Protection Act of the grand coalition is partially unconstitutional because it is not ambitious, since it discharges the fight for the preservation of the climate in subsequent generations. With this resolution of the party congress, the SPD is hardening the program previously agreed by the candidate and the Minister of the Environment Svenja Schulze.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism