After years of pacifism, the SPD is now heading in a different direction. Party leader Lars Klingbeil sees Germany in the role of a “leading power” in foreign policy. It calls for more recognition for the Bundeswehr. There has been no protest from within the party so far.
In June of each year, the pace of politics increases again. Laws, summits, receptions – the capital rotates around its center. In the middle of this parliamentary rush hour, almost a little overshadowed by the other major events, the redefinition of a people’s party has taken place. The SPD, which has mainly moved to the left in the past 15 years, is now steering in the other direction. Now the target is the middle, the course is corrected sharply to the right.
The swing, carried out by party leader Lars Klingbeil, is so sweeping that even the Chancellor was overtaken on the right. In his speech at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation this week, Klingbeil defined Germany as a “leading power” in foreign policy.
In one fell swoop, Olaf Scholz no longer pulls the SPD behind him. Now the party in the shape of Klingbeil pushes the chancellor. Where the latter failed to explain what might be behind his idea of the turning point, Klingbeil submitted the content later.
Gordon Repinski is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Media Pioneer. The free morning briefing can be found here: www.gaborsteingart.com
Its new foreign policy guidelines no longer have much to do with the fantasies of pacifism that are widespread among the party base.
The military becomes the accepted means of security policy:
The Bundeswehr is to be re-established in society:
The relationship with Russia should be redefined and the mistakes should not be repeated:
The points are a provocation for the SPD’s old understanding of foreign policy, which in recent years has moved ever further away from the Bundeswehr and foreign missions and ever closer to the idea of a partner Russia.
But remarkably, there has been no real protest so far. However, on closer inspection, no real resistance can be expected from the party left. It is almost completely enclosed. The critical remarks made by leading figures in the party on the left came timidly and dutifully.
The circumstances are favorable:
The conditions for the swing to the middle are good. Many in the SPD saw the time after the chancellor’s speech as one of lost momentum. The grand idea of reign remained vague. Now the foreign policy change of the Ampel government is to be celebrated and – according to Klingbeil’s calculations – linked to his SPD.
The attack is already aimed at the next federal elections. The real duel, so the expectation in the Willy Brandt House, is likely to take place with the Greens, who are also practicing radical realism with Economics Minister Habeck.
Conclusion: Klingbeil’s change of course is courageous, but carries a risk. SPD functionaries have never rewarded too pragmatic a shift in terms of government. On the contrary – after Chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder, new parties split off from the SPD – out of frustration at the betrayal of their own program.