Wo How can one imagine the relationship between the left in the SPD and the possible future chancellor? Far away, difficult, half broken? if Olaf Scholz When asked recently what he was reading, he didn’t answer much, but there was a biography of Hegel on the bedside table. Now Karl Marx – household god of the left – had literally turned Hegel upside down by developing dialectical materialism out of dialectical idealism – that is, being determines consciousness. Scholz reads to Hegel, the left clings to Marx. There must soon be a crash between the strengthened SPD left in the Bundestag faction and the politically rather conservative Scholz. That could happen. But it doesn’t have to be.
Left in the SPD Having long understood that they can only exercise power in Germany if they cling not too much to Karl Marx or Rosa Luxemburg, but to the political and personal realities, they were now called Helmut Schmidt or Gerhard Schröder. The left parties have been in agreement with both chancellors for some time now. Until – for example with NATO double resolution or then with Hartz IV – it stopped working without giving up.
You don’t have to dig deep into the past to find out that the left appears in the SPD with strong requests to speak, but with rather poor results. This is how the two leading left-wing parties, the chairman Saskia Esken and party leader Rolf Mützenich, had weak or mediocre results in the first ballot last week. Esken, who is active in the Swabian town of Calw, couldn’t do anything with her official bonus and ended up at 17.2 percent, after 16.9 four years ago.
Significant growth for Lars Klingbeil
Mützenich, also a committed party leftist, was running in Cologne, namely in parts of the city that are quite open to left-wing politics. But Mützenich only got 29.9 percent of the first vote and was a green competitor just ahead. After a loss of about seven percentage points in 2017, the loss was another 2.9 this time. Mützenich lost votes in Cologne, although he is the parliamentary leader and one of the best known Social Democrats and although his party managed to get some second votes in the constituency. Without a safe place on the list and the help of the relatively attractive top candidate Olaf Scholz, both top politicians on the left would have lost their seats. Scholz, on the other hand, won his constituency in Potsdam straight away and by a huge margin over the green candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock. Secretary-General Lars Klingbeil, who belongs to the more conservative ‘Seeheimers’ in the parliamentary group, also managed to win back his constituency with more than 47 percent of the first votes. He achieved a significant rise, probably also due to his fame and his prominent party office.
So it is not a constitutional state, because there are also successful leftists, but it is striking that left-wing politics in the SPD has a better chance in the slipstream of people who are closer to the political center. As a leftist you can pursue left-wing politics, for example demand a top tax rate of 75 percent, then you arrive at 4.9 percent, like the party “Die Linke”. Or you can come to terms with the SPD.