Hubertus Heil: stamping an SPD identity on the coalition government

Since the SPD's historically low vote of 20.5% in the 2017 election, the party has been struggling to re-establish a clear identity and to communicate what it stands for in the 21st century. One of the party's 'hope-bearers' - a politician in whom hope for the future is placed - is Employment Minister, Hubertus Heil. … Continue reading Hubertus Heil: stamping an SPD identity on the coalition government

The Federal States: political profiles

The Federal Republic of Germany has 16 states - the Bundesländer. The five East German states - Brandenburg,  Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia (as well as east Berlin) - were incorporated into the Federal Republic in 1990 with German reunification. Federalism means that each state has its own parliament and government and is responsible for … Continue reading The Federal States: political profiles

The FDP: traditional liberals or ‘subdued populists’?

Coalition partners for much of the Federal Republic's history, Germany's Liberals, the FDP, have sailed through rocky waters in the last decade. After a low point in 2013, when the party failed to win enough votes to enter the Bundestag, the FDP bounced back to win 80 seats in 2017. Following the election, Angela Merkel … Continue reading The FDP: traditional liberals or ‘subdued populists’?

Manuela Schwesig: leading the SPD fight-back in the east

Manuela Schwesig, SPD Minister President of the east German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,  who is charged with spearheading  the mammoth task of reversing the SPD’s collapse in the east of the country, is like Franziska Giffey, one of the SPD’s ‘hope-bearers.' Foto: Thomas Fries / Lizenz: cc-by-sa-3.0 de Following the resignation of leader Andrea Nahes in June 2019, Schwesig was … Continue reading Manuela Schwesig: leading the SPD fight-back in the east

Franziska Giffey: SPD hope-bearer

Franziska Giffey, the coalition government's SPD Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, has risen through the party ranks quickly and is now not only being talked of as the next Mayor of Berlin, but also as a possible SPD Chancellor candidate one day. As the newspaper taz wrote, "Giffey's almost meteoric rise … Continue reading Franziska Giffey: SPD hope-bearer

“SöderTM”: Bavarian leader in pole position to be Chancellor candidate

Forceful, ultra conservative and polarising, Markus Söder, Bavaria’s Minister President and leader of the CDU’s sister party in Bavaria, the  CSU, is currently a strong contender to be the CDU/CSU Union’s Chancellor candidate for 2021.    Söder has seen his profile and popularity rise during the corona crisis and a recent survey showed that he … Continue reading “SöderTM”: Bavarian leader in pole position to be Chancellor candidate

Jens Spahn: “Chancellor in the wings”

Following Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's announcement that she is resigning as leader of the conservative CDU, Health Minister Jens Spahn, a hope bearer for many on the right of the party, was widely tipped to throw his hat into the ring. Instead, in February he surprisingly teamed up with the 'continuity candidate', Armin Laschet, as Laschet's deputy. … Continue reading Jens Spahn: “Chancellor in the wings”

Björn Höcke: extremist demagogue

Björn Höcke, right-wing demagogue and leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Thuringia, is a hugely divisive character in the party. He is known for incendiary speeches to his extremist core in the east, and has been described  as a ‘pin-up figure for the right’;  but in other sections of the party, particularly in … Continue reading Björn Höcke: extremist demagogue

Olaf Scholz: rejected by SPD members but surging ahead in the corona crisis

In a surprise result in December 2019, Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, was defeated in his bid to become SPD leader by two little-known left wingers, Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans.  Scholz had been tipped to win the leadership with his running partner Klara Geywitz. https://twitter.com/OlafScholz/status/1242750132304719872 The leadership defeat was reported … Continue reading Olaf Scholz: rejected by SPD members but surging ahead in the corona crisis

The Alternative for Germany: from eurosceptic beginnings to far-right populism

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), which was founded as a eurosceptic party in 2013, has rapidly evolved into a far-right populist party, positioning itself as the voice of the people against the established elite. It has a powerful nationalist faction, and it has shaken up the political establishment with extremist statements, rejection of the post-war … Continue reading The Alternative for Germany: from eurosceptic beginnings to far-right populism

Die Linke – a party that makes life difficult for itself

Germany's Left Party (Die Linke) won 9.2% nationally in the 2017 election. It has 69 seats in the Bundestag and it is also in coalition governments in Thuringia, Berlin and Bremen. But despite its electoral weight, the party is regarded with suspicion by other parties, particularly Angela Merkel's CDU. The Left Party was formed in … Continue reading Die Linke – a party that makes life difficult for itself

Norbert Röttgen: the smart outsider who fell from grace

The first CDU leadership candidate out of the gates was a surprise: clever, well-dressed lawyer Norbert Röttgen. Described by the Suddeutsche Zeitung as an outsider and lone fighter, Röttgen is known as a quick witted politician and smooth speaker. Like leadership rivals Armin Laschet and Friedrich Merz, Röttgen comes from North-Rhine Westphalia. He was born … Continue reading Norbert Röttgen: the smart outsider who fell from grace

Armin Laschet: the continuity candidate of ‘measure and middle’

Shortly before the current leader of Germany's CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, announced she was stepping down, Armin Laschet joked, "Is Germany ready for a male Chancellor?" Not long after that, the 58 year old Prime Minister of Germany's largest state, North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), surprised many by making his bid to be CDU leader. Armin LaschetPhoto: Sandro … Continue reading Armin Laschet: the continuity candidate of ‘measure and middle’

Alexander Gauland: pushing the boundaries ever rightwards

Alexander Gauland is the joint leader of the parliamentary group of the far-right populist party, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).  Until November 2019, when he stepped down in favour of Tino Chrupulla,  he was also joint leader of the national party. He has had a seat in the Bundestag since 2017, the year the AfD … Continue reading Alexander Gauland: pushing the boundaries ever rightwards

Jörg Meuthen: far-right Professor

In 2015, Jörg Meuthen became joint leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) with Frauke Petry  and remains as  joint leader now with Tino Chrupulla. In the early days of the AfD, Meuthen presented as a moderate; by 2019, however, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was concerned about his' aggressive xenophobic rhetoric.'  … Continue reading Jörg Meuthen: far-right Professor

Friedrich Merz: right-wing challenger for the CDU crown

Of the three prospective candidates to take over as Chair of the CDU in the wake of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s (AKK) resignation, Merz, who is on the right of the party and who is seen as a champion of business, was initially viewed as the most likely to succeed her. Friedrich MerzFoto: Michael Lucan, Likenz: CC-BY-SA … Continue reading Friedrich Merz: right-wing challenger for the CDU crown

Green leaders preparing for government as SPD continues its miserable decline

Since the 2017 election, Germany’s social democratic party, the SPD, has continued its miserable decline from its historic low of 20.5%.  The Green Party, which won a modest 8.9% in the election, has surged to become the second most popular party in the country, far outstripping the SPD.  The Greens won 20.5% of the vote … Continue reading Green leaders preparing for government as SPD continues its miserable decline

Can the new SPD leadership reverse the party’s decline?

At the end of 2019,  following the departure of its first ever female leader, Andrea Nahles, the SPD elected a new leadership duo.  In a surprise result, little known left-wingers Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans defeated  the favourites, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and his running-partner Klara Geywitz by 53% to 45%. The election of Esken … Continue reading Can the new SPD leadership reverse the party’s decline?