Saturday, May 21, 2016

Twilight of German and Austrian Social Democracy?

Eurointelligence reported this past week in Afraid of Merkel 05/17/2016 (second story on page):

This is a really sad story. In Austria, they hired a manager because no social democratic politician of sound mind wanted to become chancellor of the country - and thus a member of the European Council. The newspapers there described the job as a suicide mission. The same is now happening with the German Social Democrats. Sigmar Gabriel suggested over the weekend that he may welcome some real challengers for the 2017 nomination, and proposed a primary among members. His general secretary, Olaf Scholz, immediately dismissed the idea, saying that the party leader should have the first go. The decision now is to wait until the election in North-Rhine Westphalia in the spring of next year, which is just a few months before the elections. If those elections are lost, which the Social Democrats seem to expect, then the backlash might be so strong that Gabriel would be off the hook on having to run a campaign against Merkel, which he knows he will lose. In any case, he agrees with Merkel on most of the big political issues anyway. Their differences are due to the necessity of pacifying their respective parties. Frankfurter Allgemeine has an astute comment this morning, which says that Gabriel's lack of consistency is to blame for the SPD's plight, and the best thing he should do is to stop digging whilst in a hole. [my emphasis]