Somewhat overshadowed by the second round of the French presidential elections, the elections in the German region of Schleswig-Holstein have yielded a result that gives an indication of where Germany will be heading after the national elections in September. And that indication very clearly is: Martin Schulz will not be Bundeskanzler.
The former President of the European Parliament has suffered the second defeat in the second election (the first was in the Saarland elections) since he took over the chairmanship of the German Socialist Party (SPD) and the role as Angela Merkel’s direct challenger for the post of Chancellor. All the euphoria is gone. It turns out that the man’s main quality were his elbows, which he so skillfully used during his time at the EP to secure for himself first the chairmanship of the SPD Delegation within the Socialist Group, then the group chairmanship, then the election as President of the EP, and then, once arrived there, to forcefully expand the power and patronage of that job. Undoubtedly, this astonishing career suggests that Schulz does have some skills a politician – but not such skills as would endear him with any electorate. Tragically, he and his party really seem to have believed that thanks to his achievements at the EP he was popular among ordinary citizens outside the EP bubble, or that at least he could become a successful campaigner. But actually he has never won any election, except a communal election in a small town called Würselen nearly thirty years ago.
Next week there are the elections in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany’s biggest Bundesland in terms of population, which also happens to be the region were Schulz was born and raised. Another defeat there, and is ambition to become Chancellor will look outright idiculous, if not pityful. It may even not be necessary for the CDU to unpack any further scandal stories from Schulz’s time as EP President.