Who is the SPD of Berlin? Do you understand what it says when you tick the Social Democratic top candidate Franziska Giffey in the election for the Berlin House of Representatives in the autumn of 2021? Or does the party remain a surprise bag that surprises every day, but rarely offers what Berliners really need?
The Social Democrats in the capital are no better off than the comrades in the Bund, who go to Chancellor along with the iron pragmatist Olaf Scholz, but are otherwise hard to get. A motley program and the vague desire of the majority of the inner party for a left-green government alliance leaves voters at a loss.
The half-baked attempt to tie the SPD base and top candidates using formula compromises has not met with measurable success in the opinion polls so far.
It can still be done – even in Berlin, where a top candidate waiting is smart enough to take over the party leadership at a state party congress on Oct. 31. Franziska Giffey wants to gain timely access to an SPD state association with its own, citizen-centered agenda, considered a radical exotic even in the left-wing Federal Party and should be ignored if possible.
For the Berlin comrades it is considered party rights
From the point of view of most Berlin comrades, the Federal Minister of Family and expert on precarious Neukölln circumstances is a party right. She herself advocates non-ideological action and says what she wants, regardless of red-red-green sensitivities: effective administration, much more housing, expansion of the metro, a strong economy and good work, excellent science and education and last but not least – more security and order. That also means, and this is not self-evident in Berlin, a clear advantage over left-wing extremist chaos.
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That sounds like middle class, and it is. You can discuss whether it makes sense to start the election campaign now, but political competition has been warned and can respond. For now it is still a matter of soft gossip, which may also be due to the fact that the Greens and leftists in particular are relatively confident in their own clientele.
Even with Giffey, the SPD will likely fail to break the Greens’ profile as the highest authority on climate protection. And the left in Berlin still manages to rally the socially underprivileged and socio-political activists around them.
Figurehead for a party that wants something completely different?
The decisive question will therefore be whether the Berlin SPD, in which 6,000 young socialists have a lot to say, will reach the center of society in the election campaign of 2021, where the CDU and the FDP have a blast. The principle of hope is called Giffey, and those comrades who don’t like the new course at all know that too.
Only from the end of the year, when Giffey takes over the SPD chairmanship with Berlin SPD group chairman and networker Raed Saleh and is chosen as the top candidate for the House of Representatives election, will it become clear whether the coup will succeed. Will Giffey become a figurehead who can only get votes for a party that wants something completely different politically? Or does it grow together that does not actually go together?
Leave or flash the pan, we’ll see. Whether the SPD, which has been the reigning mayor of Berlin for twenty years without interruption, can defend the office in the Rotes Rathaus depends not only on internal party dynamics. To be successful, Giffey must regain citizens’ severely diminished trust in Berlin’s Social Democracy. A clear program that is plausible to frustrated citizens is a necessary but not sufficient condition for this. You should just be able to believe again that the SPD is doing what it promises to be good.