Federal party conference: The SPD supports its chancellor

Federal party conference: The SPD supports its chancellor

According to surveys, dissatisfaction with the Chancellor is greater than ever before. There have also been rumblings in his party recently. At the party conference he appears unimpressed and combative. The delegates thank him.

At the SPD party conference, Chancellor Olaf Scholz responded to his party’s dramatic low in polls with a combative call for unity. “We have to stick together and have a clear course,” said the Chancellor in his speech to the 600 delegates at the party conference in Berlin. Scholz clearly rejected the dismantling of the welfare state and the cuts in citizens’ money demanded by the FDP. However, he left out the controversial issue of deporting rejected asylum seekers.

Almost five minutes of standing applause

The delegates celebrated Scholz with almost five minutes of standing applause. The clear support for the Chancellor was not necessarily to be expected. In recent months, frustration has spread within the party due to poor poll numbers. The SPD is only at 14 to 17 percent. In the 2021 federal election it was 25.7 percent. Dissatisfaction with the Chancellor’s work is greater than ever before. According to a current survey by the opinion research institute YouGov, only one in five people like how Scholz is leading the government.

51 minutes without manuscript

The Chancellor was unimpressed by this. Although he came to the lectern with a folded piece of paper, he delivered his 51-minute speech freely throughout. Some people expected that the SPD’s cohesion would be over at the party conference, he said right at the beginning. But that won’t happen. “This social democratic party will continue to work together for the next few years.”

Scholz looked back four years. At that time too, the SPD was in a very difficult situation. No one believed the Social Democrats would be successful in the federal election two years before the 2021 election. The Chancellor emphasized that the unity has held since then. “Nobody expected us to last this long, thank you for that.”

Scholz is confident about budget negotiations

Scholz did not go into detail about the difficult negotiations with Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) about closing the 17 billion euro hole in the 2024 budget. But he still had a few messages ready.

The Chancellor ruled out any serious intervention in social benefits. “In such a situation there will be no dismantling of the welfare state in Germany,” he promised and clearly rejected FDP demands for cuts in citizens’ benefits.

He was nevertheless confident that an agreement would be reached in the traffic lights. “We are not faced with an unsolvable task. Everyone now just needs to come to an agreement.”

Party congress indirectly calls for suspending the debt brake in 2024

In a resolution, the party congress indirectly called for the debt brake to be suspended in 2024, but this leaves room for interpretation. It says that “constitutionally stipulated leeway for the budget” must be used in the interests of the population. Politically, the war in Ukraine created the prerequisites for an emergency that would enable increased borrowing.

In her speech, party leader Saskia Esken clearly advocated suspending the debt brake, which the FDP views with skepticism. Lindner only commented briefly on the Internet portal X about the SPD party conference. “In spite of everything that we still have to solve and can do, I can only agree with Olaf Scholz on one thing in particular: Supporting Ukraine is an investment in our security,” he wrote. “We stand by this shared responsibility in difficult times.” Scholz promised Ukraine continued help in his speech.

The conflict issue of deportations is avoided

When it came to the controversial issue of migration, Scholz made it easy for himself. He avoided the sensitive issue of repatriating rejected asylum seekers and concentrated on promoting the immigration of skilled workers: “As a country of immigration, Germany still needs the prospect of accepting those who are necessary for the growth and prosperity of this society.”

In recent weeks, the government’s migration policy has caused some discontent on the left wing of the SPD. It was particularly sparked by a sentence from the Chancellor in a “Spiegel” interview: “We finally have to deport on a large scale those who have no right to stay in Germany.”

Juso boss demands offensive from Scholz

The leadership of the Jusos criticized this as “straight from the vocabulary of the right-wing mob”. Philipp Türmer, who has now been elected chairman of the youth association, wrote: “I could vomit at this quote.”

Türmer did not address this again in the discussion about the Chancellor’s speech. However, he called on Scholz to take more action in the traffic light coalition. “Dear Olaf, if you want to play defense, you have to play attack,” he demanded. “You are the head of the government, not Robert and Christian’s couples therapist,” he said, referring to Habeck and Lindner.

Overall, there is hardly any criticism of the government’s course

Overall, there was hardly any criticism of the government’s course in the debate. The Social Democrats thus continued the line set at the start of the party conference on Friday. When electing the party leadership, the delegates refrained from punishing the leadership trio made up of party chairmen Lars Klingbeil and Esken as well as general secretary Kevin Kühnert. On the contrary: Esken and Kühnert significantly improved their results from the last election two years ago.

Source: Stern

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