The nomination of Lars Klingbeil and Saskia Esken as candidates for the next dual leadership of the SPD met with broad approval in the party. After the party’s governing bodies presented their proposal on Monday that Esken should remain in office and Secretary General Lars Klingbeil should move up to the party leadership for Norbert Walter-Borjans, several state chairmen of the SPD spoke up and signaled their support for the election at the party congress December.
Thomas Kutschaty, chairman of the association with the largest number of members, the NRW-SPD, said the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “We support the candidacies.” The SPD in Baden-Württemberg also sees great support in its own ranks. Country manager Andreas Stoch spoke of a “strong team” that “stands for continuity and departure at the same time”. Florian von Brunn, co-head of the Bayern SPD, called the proposal “very good”. Top politicians from other regional associations also assured the two candidates of their approval.
This means that the SPD will see a low-noise repositioning at the top. Two years ago, the presidency election was preceded by a complicated procedure with member surveys that lasted almost half a year. This time the party leadership and Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz want a quick solution to the outstanding personnel issues. The SPD is in the middle of coalition negotiations with the FDP and the Greens on a traffic light alliance.
Norbert Walter-Borjans, 69, who combined his retirement with the desire for rejuvenation at the top of the party, emphasized after the meeting that Esken’s renewed candidacy stood for continuity. His co-boss assured that she would be able to work with Klingbeil “well and trustingly”. In a joint letter from Esken and Klingbeil to the members, it says: “We want to continue the successful work of recent years and position the SPD as a modern people’s party with new impulses.”
In addition, Klingbeil published a video message promoting his candidacy. He highlighted the surprising electoral success to which he had contributed as Secretary General with a successful campaign and declared: “An election victory is not enough for me.” If the SPD does everything right now, then “a social democratic decade” lies ahead of the SPD. Specifically, he gave an outlook on the upcoming state elections in 2022, for example in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, which the SPD wants to win.
Esken declared that she and Klingbeil wanted to devote all of their energy to the party chairmanship. But she did not rule out wanting to become a minister in the future. Leading party colleagues had previously asked them to choose one of the two tasks. It is not clear who will succeed Klingbeil as Secretary General. The Juso chairwoman Jessica Rosenthal spoke out in Welt TV for party vice Kevin Kühnert, who belongs to the left wing. It was reported from board circles that consideration was being given to filling the post with a woman.