SPD – the party of surprises. Because one of their youngest top politicians, Lars Klingbeil, 43 years old, is one of those who have been around the longest. He has seen, endured and led half a dozen party leaders. Among them were very different characters, such as Martin Schulz, Andrea Nahles and just Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans. Klingbeil will now become party chairman himself, together with Esken. Can that go well? After all, Klingbeil had clearly spoken out in favor of the duo of Olaf Scholz and Klara Geywitz in the previous election for the chairman. Nonetheless, the answer is: yes, that can go well.
This is primarily due to the people themselves. Esken claims that SPD to have managed successfully for two years. What is true – and again not. Because Esken and Walter-Borjans had to collect their great promise from winter 2019 to lead the SPD out of the grand coalition very quickly. They didn’t keep what they were chosen to do. The resistance was simply too great. That was just not so noticeable in the party because the pandemic soon broke out and even the greatest critics of the grand coalition recognized that a stable federal government is now needed.
Esken then caught on from time to time with astonishing to frightening comments. She thought there was a “latent racism” among the German security forces. When Donald Trump wanted to ban Antifa, she tweeted: “58 and Antifa. Of course. ”She called for the withdrawal of German soldiers from Iraq and called tax cuts“ dangerous ”. In the federal election campaign, the CDU tried to make Esken the protagonist of a red sock campaign. But that didn’t really ignite.
And that also had something to do with the other person in the new duo, with Klingbeil. Klingbeil is one of the conservative Social Democrats. He is probably the only one in the top management who is positive about the former Chancellor while the tape is running Gerhard Schröder speaks. Klingbeil from Lower Saxony had once demonstrated against his policies, and then he worked for him. Even then, Klingbeil’s amazing adaptability was evident. Is that arbitrariness? More likely the flexibility that is needed to survive high up in politics. He will give Esken the freedom at the party leadership that it needs so that the base, which Esken still sees as its representative, is largely satisfied.
When the SPD was on the ground, especially after the resignation of Andrea Nahles as party leader and parliamentary group leader, Klingbeil kept a cool head. That alone made him stand out from the chaotic heap. And there’s a reason he’s using Kevin Kühnert gets along well. The two are at different ends on many political issues. But they recognize each other’s professionalism, including their reliability when it comes to agreements. That connects.
Klingbeil is an extremely sociable, friendly, but not buddy guy with a realistic, sober look. He took seriously the comprehensive error analysis that the SPD had carried out after the 2017 federal election. As one of the few. Even when the SPD was still 16 percent in polls and the Greens outstripped all of them, he was certain: the main opponent is the Union. He should be proved right. Also with that: At some point the voters will notice that Angela Merkel is no longer running.
Do you want the big change then? Probably not. You are more likely to opt for the political piece of furniture (Geywitz) Scholzthat has been standing in the room for quite a while, to which you have gotten used and which you know what you have. Let the Greens keep talking about the major upheavals. The SPD is the anchor of stability. Secretary-General Klingbeil understood early on that this motive caught on. His goal as party chairman from day 1 will be that Scholz’s chancellorship does not end after four years.
More managers than thought leaders
After the successful election campaign there was now no getting around him. He probably only had to decide whether he wanted to become a minister under Scholz or whether he wanted to be party leader. He chose the office with less airtime. But that doesn’t have to be to his disadvantage. Klingbeil has spoken out in favor of armed drones, wants to advance digitization – and what else? You don’t really know what Klingbeil stands for in political terms. He’s more of a manager than a thought leader.
Klingbeil will be elected at the party congress in mid-December. The times in which the SPD would have started something like a member survey on this question are over. Of course, because the SPD is now successful, it will soon be the party of the Chancellor. The members are allowed to answer if a party is doing badly – see CDU.
The SPD now has a personnel issue to clarify. Who will be the General Secretary? Because that it should be a woman, this call will come. He was successful with the President of the Bundestag. Is the men’s party SPD satisfied with that for the time being? There are also other proportionality considerations that could be raised. For example: The party has to get younger. That would suit Kevin Kühnert. Anyway, he expected that the post of Secretary General would become vacant. The decisive factor now will be how loud the calls for him are. For example from his buddy Lars Klingbeil.