The Guardian, October 3, 2012
Germany‘s opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), has closed the gap on Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democrats following the selection of her former finance minister to lead their general election campaign next year.
Polls show that the choice of Peer Steinbrück as the SPD challenger last week has given the party a significant boost in its attempt to oust Merkel. The SPD is now enjoying its highest level of support in a year.
A Forsa survey shows that the SPD has gained three points from a week earlier to 29% after the selection of the feisty, plain-speaking 65-year-old. Merkel’s party dropped three points to 35%.
The combined support for the SPD and the party’s preferred partner, the Greens, is now 41%, marginally ahead of the 39% support for the ruling centre-right coalition.
The polls seem to vindicate the SPD’s choice of the man regarded as most capable of poaching centrist voters from Merkel’s party and its struggling coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). Continue reading
GlobalPost, 28 April, 2012
BERLIN — It is hardly surprising that the German Social Democrats are delighted with the prospect of a Francois Hollande victory in France’s presidential election. There are, after all, very few center-left parties in power in Europe these days.
The SPD will be hoping that if the Socialist Party candidate beats incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on May 6, it will signal a European comeback of sorts for social democracy, and give them a boost not only in forthcoming regional elections, but next year in the national vote.
“Obviously the SPD would feel that a Socialist victory in France would be very good news, and there is often a certain spill-over effect,” says Thomas Klau of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “But on the other hand, the impact shouldn’t be overestimated either.”
He points out, for example, that Spanish voters have just voted out the Socialists. “There is no question of a general trend in Europe.”
At the same time, with a possible Hollande victory, some center-left parties may start to feel they are winning the argument about growth in the euro crisis. While the SPD in Germany broadly supports Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approach — backing her on the bailouts, for example — they have also demanded that she think beyond a narrow focus on savings and cuts. Continue reading