S.Symbol picture SPD: The press conference of the party leadership on Monday was broadcast live on Youtube. However, someone in the Willy Brandt House had set the camera so that it was filming the improvised stage from the side and the backstage area was also in the picture. And then it happened: nothing at all. The shady dreariness on the left edge of the screen emphasized the backdrop of optimism that the chairmen Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans displayed in front of a bright red facade.
It’s part of the business. After losing elections, party leaders look to the future because, if at all, there is only something to be gained there. But in the case of the SPD the question arises: what? It seems increasingly bizarre when Olaf Scholz confirms that he will be the next Federal Chancellor, and it doesn’t help if, as Esken and Walter-Borjans tried on Monday, the meager result in the election in Saxony-Anhalt with Saxony- persistent conditions explained. There is always something, as the saying goes, and the trick is to win anyway, or at least not to lose too much.
The SPD in Saxony-Anhalt was still in double digits before the election and is now 8.4 percent. Katja Pähle, who ran as the top candidate, called this result “really terrible”. It sounded as if she was describing a force of nature, like a tsunami, triggered by an earthquake called AfD. The SPD was on the right issues in the election campaign, said Pähle, and Esken seconded her. She pointed out that Corona had harmed the SPD. Both party leaders attested to Pähle and her people that they fought with passion. It is still uncertain whether the Social Democrats will be involved in the future government in Magdeburg. That would at least be a little consolation. But nothing more.
The SPD also complains that it is unable to distinguish itself sufficiently in coalitions that are led by the competition. So also in the federal government. This leads to a dilemma in the election campaign that Walter-Borjans sees as an opportunity. The SPD had to do two things better before the federal elections: firstly, it had to ensure that the government’s successes were more closely linked to the SPD, and secondly, it had to emphasize that the SPD would always be thwarted by the Union at crucial points. That would make her assertive, but also suppressed. Or something in between.
In the end, it should be judged again or still by the Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz. Esken emphasized that Scholz had very high approval ratings in surveys, and voters ascribed him a particularly high level of competence. The question is whether that rubs off on the SPD or rather the SPD on Scholz. He was confident on Monday: “The race is open,” he tweeted. “Here we go.”