You could call it a Social Democratic competition: what do Franziska Giffey, Raed Saleh and Olaf Scholz have in common? All three of them want to become something in the SPD and win elections. With their stories and their beliefs, all three provoke the majority in their party, which has for years committed to an ever-left course – both in the federal government and in Berlin.
The similarities end when it comes to action. Giffey and her appointed co-chair Saleh released a program in the Tagesspiegel interview that makes the party that left Berlin cry
You took a stand for the state party conference at the end of the month and want to fight. Chancellor candidate Scholz, on the other hand, avoids provocations from his comrades and seeks solidarity with party leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, who defeated him in the membership decision a year ago.
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Giffey and Saleh aim with clear statements mainly in the middle, partly distance themselves from the previous red-red-green government policy, want a business-friendly course, do not ban the car and the rental ceiling may not be extended either. When it comes to internal security and rules enforcement, Giffey has announced a crackdown on left-wing extremists.
Is viewed with suspicion by many in their own party: SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz Photo: dpa
Berlin political scientist Thorsten Faas calls this a “clear shift in emphasis”. In view of the 2021 parliamentary elections, Giffey wanted to strategically “position himself differently and be more selective”, especially with regard to the Greens and their environment.
This course is not without risk. Because strong groups in the Berlin SPD want Giffey and Saleh as chairman, but they only want their name, not their program.
Can Olaf Scholz capitalize on his strengths if he adapts?
Some Social Democrats believe that Scholz too could only become a convincing candidate for chancellor if he expected something from his own party. So far, his candidacy has not boosted the SPD. Local politicians and old members of the Bundestag are concerned.
You sometimes have the feeling “that the different wings in the group for factual or personal decisions are more important than relevant considerations”, complained for example the MEP Dagmar Freitag.
The profile with which Scholz won the elections in Hamburg is currently not very visible, does he have enough legroom? There he stood for not only economic kindness, but also a tough course in the field of internal security, which included the use of emetics by drug dealers and deportations.
At the top of the federal SPD, the issue of internal security is often handled with sharp fingers. After Scholz negotiated more intelligence powers for secret services with the union on Tuesday, for example when opening online chat messages, he did not praise himself, union faction vice Thorsten Frei did it for him: “Olaf Scholz has now triumphed against the left wing of the SPD” .
The case shows: Scholz must always be careful not to provoke his own left camp. The Vice-Chancellor and candidate for Chancellor will therefore take a close look at how far Giffey and Saleh are now in Berlin with their provocatively clear program in their party – and whether it could be a blueprint for him too.