The “Kapo” runs for Chancellor: Martin Schulz is (once again) a “Spitzenkandidat”

Bilder des Tages Berlin, Pressekonferenz, Thema: Landtagswahl in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Blumenübergabe und Pressestatements mit Sigmar Gabriel und Erwin Sellering, Foto: Martin Schulz, Präsident des Europäischen Parlamentes, Europabeauftragter der SPD Images the Day Berlin Press conference Theme Landtag election in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania Flower delivery and Press statements with Sigmar Gabriel and Erwin Selle ring Photo Martin Schulz President the European Parliament the SPDThere had been some speculations, but ultimately the situation comes as a big surprise: Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) has decided to step aside and open the way for Martin Schulz, the power-greedy ex-President of the European Parliament, to run as the Socialist “Spitzenkandidat” (lead candidate) in the upcoming federal elections in September. The man whose career took full steam thanks to Silvio Berlusconi casting him as an SS guardian in a film on Nazi concentration camps is now going to be Angela Merkel’s challenger.

It is, however, very questionable whether he can be successful. Despite his intense shoulder-rubbing with international leaders in Brussels and Stasbourg, Schulz is relatively unknown in Germany – and those who know him do not necessarily like him. The power-play within one party or parliamentary group, an art in which Schulz doubtlessly possesses some mastership, is something different than actually winning elections. Schulz has, in fact, never won any election. His first stint as a Spitzenkandidat – in the European elections of 2014 –  ended rather unsuccessfully, with a defeat against the EPP’s (also not very popular) Jean-Claude Juncker.

Current polls see Angela Merkel’s Christian democrats at 36%, while the Socialists are at a historic low of just above 20%. Schulz’s problem is that, in addition to being disliked for who he is, he will be disliked for the very same reasons that make Angela Merkel unpopular within growing parts of the electorate: unreserved support for immigration, unreserved support for the Euro, unwillingness to offer any alternatives…

The likely outcome of the elections is that both Christian Democrats and Socialists will suffer dramatic losses, from which Greens and residual Communists (‘Die Linke’) will, however, not benefit. Instead, the liberal FDP and the right-wing ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ look poised to make it into the Bundestag. As a result, the next government will probably again be a Grand Coalition of Christian Democrats and Socialists, with the latter remaining in the role of junior partners. It is supposed that Martin Schulz might have ambitions to get the post of foreign minister in such a government. However, as a man who has reminded many (and not only Berlusconi) of the SS, one may wonder whether he should be Germany’s face to the world…

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