What Kevin Kühnert and the SPD should watch out for now

What Kevin Kühnert and the SPD should watch out for now
What Kevin Kühnert and the SPD should watch out for now

Kevin Kühnert is quick with his head and his mouth. His words about “contact shame”, however, were superfluous. Not only because the Greens are now angry.

Kevin Kühnert has a fan he knows nothing about: me. The SPD general secretary is one of the most original figures in politics, quick-thinking and quick-witted in speaking.

In May 2022, Kühnert said in a talk show about Robert Habeck’s communication, which was still highly praised by many (including me) at the time: He also found his way of speaking nice, but even the Minister of Economic Affairs wanted to be re-elected after four years because of good politics “and not win the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize”. I think that was the last time I laughed out loud at a talk show, at least out of joy at a good joke.

All of this does not make Kühnert a good politician, but it does make him someone who is fun to listen to when he talks about politics. At SPD party conferences, I make sure not to miss Kühnert’s appearances. I cannot say the same about speeches by other comrades who hold high offices in the SPD.

Now Kühnert has got himself into trouble with his quick tongue. The day after the European elections, he attributed the SPD’s poor result to the fact that potential voters were unfamiliar with the coalition partners FDP and the Greens. This aversion then rebounds on his party. Kühnert spoke of “contact disgrace”.

The offended sound of Kevin Kühnert

The Greens were very upset about this. And the CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt said that the incriminated word showed how far the disruption of the traffic light coalition had progressed. No one can judge this better than Dobrindt, who in 2010 expressed his disgrace towards the then coalition partner FDP by using the word “Gurkentruppe” (a bunch of idiots).

Now, the question of whether coalition partners have a deterrent effect on former or potential voters is certainly open to debate. Some former FDP voters certainly feel the same way about the SPD and the Greens. Perhaps that is also why the Liberals have not been audibly upset about Kühnert. However, if you start such a discussion with a word like “contact shame”, you should not be surprised that the other person is not particularly willing to talk.

What bothers me even more about Kühnert’s words, however, is the insulted tone they sound. Over the years, the SPD has developed an unpleasant tendency to take it out on its coalition partner when things are going badly for them. That was the case when Chancellor Gerhard Schröder once found the Greens “disgusting.” That was the case when one of Kühnert’s predecessors, Hubertus Heil, grumbled that the SPD was working in the engine room of the grand coalition while Angela Merkel was on the sun deck. That was the case time and again when the SPD complained that the CDU chancellor was exploiting social democratic achievements for her own political purposes. In truth, the SPD often did not want to acknowledge the joint successes of the black-red coalition because it could not shake off its own shame of having contact with the Union.

The grand old SPD was always a party of justice. Kevin Kühnert should be careful that it does not become a party of self-righteousness. That does not win elections. And certainly not the Bachmann Prize.

All episodes of the column “Fried – View from Berlin” can be found here.

Source: Stern

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