Even in the appeal, the SPD sees no violation of the party order in the proximity of the former chancellor to Russia. Politically, however, the case is likely to be discussed further.
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s closeness to Russia has not resulted in party fines from the SPD. The arbitration commission of the SPD district of Hanover rejected applications from several SPD branches in the second instance in a decision that was available to the German Press Agency on Thursday. Several media had previously reported about it.
According to the decision, it cannot be “determined with sufficient certainty” that Schröder violated statutes, principles or the party order or was guilty of an dishonorable act. “Perhaps top German politicians have misjudged the dangers of being dependent on Russian energy supplies over the past 25 years.” But that also applies to other politicians from the SPD and other parties. “To accuse the opponent of such a misjudgment, however, goes too far.”
The SPD branches that had applied for the appeal could now apply for an appeal to the SPD Federal Arbitration Commission. However, it is considered rather unlikely that a further appeal would be allowed after two acquittals in the first instance.
Commitment to Russian state-owned companies
The party organization procedure was initially initiated by 17 SPD branches. In the first instance, the SPD sub-district Region Hannover ruled in the summer that Schröder had not violated party rules. In contrast, seven SPD branches appealed. The hearing took place at the beginning of December – two and a half months passed until the decision that has now been announced.
However, the proceedings show that the former chancellor’s commitment to Russian state-owned companies and his position on the Ukraine war have made him many opponents within his own party. As early as April 2022, SPD leader Saskia Esken suggested that the former chancellor leave the party. However, Schröder is not completely isolated in the SPD.
In the event of a violation, according to the SPD regulations, Schröder’s exclusion from the SPD would have been the severest punishment. However, it was said early on that this step was unlikely for legal reasons. Milder sanctions were a reprimand or a temporary denial of the right to hold party functions.
Schröder is considered a close friend of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and worked for Russian energy companies for years. With regard to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Schröder stated that it was Russia’s responsibility to end the war. However, the ties to Russia should not be completely severed.
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