“I’m not a magician,” Martin Schulz confessed candidly after the disastrous landslide of his party, the SPD, in the historic social democratic stronghold of Northern Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous federal state of Germany. Yet, at the time of his candidacy to the Chancellery, the media and opinion polls had predicted a real miracle: to revert the frantic struggle of the SPD, the historical German Social Democratic Party, into a winning offensive, assuring their survival after a relentless series of capsizes.
It had seemed a formidable yet possible challenge. But losing three regional elections in quick succession has interrupted Social Democrats’ dreams of revenge. Nor was it possible to hide behind the mistakes or shortcomings of the red-green coalition that ruled the Northern Rhine-Westphalia, no matter how severe they were. Or behind the insecurity aroused by the unexplained carnival of violence and sexual harassment in Cologne.
The trend is now clear and leads directly to the fall elections. Schulz promises to address them with a fighting air that so far has not been seen. At best, he’s made some reference to the centrality of “social justice,” but nothing to give the SPD a strong characterization.