Harald Daehne, in Berlin, headlines his report: German Social Democrats before the ruins? He quotes what Lord Rolf Dahrendorf, a German-British sociologist said in 1983: “The social democratic century is ending.”
At that time in Western Germany a coalition of Liberals and Conservatives with
Chancellor Helmut Kohl at their head were starting their reign for 16 years.
15 years later, in 1998 it seems, the liberal Dahrendorf was rebutted. The Social Democratic Party in Germany (SPD) in a grand coalition won the elections. Most European countries were governed in that time by left wing-parties.
‘More economic than social’
Once in power, the social democratic parties showed their promised ‘modern’ solutions were more economic than social. A good example: the German-British “Schroeder-Blair-Paper” from 1999. The Conservatives hadn’t the heart to impose such radical social cuts.
The adjustment to the international trade, especially in the EU, should be the ‘new’ social democratic answer to a winning Capitalism after 1989.
Danger of Communism needed
The 100-year-old social democratic balance between capital and work always needed the danger of Communism. Without that, capital
could only be moderated. And the smart social democratic leaders (like Schroeder or Blair) liked the proximity of big money.
For many voters, the cutting of social benefits, the introduction of flexible work, and low level wages was treason against the working class.
These were very disappointed, especially in the German east. From 40 per cent support in 1998 the SPD plunged to 20 per cent in 2017. A catastrophe!
The third coalition and the continuing crisis
The third coalition with Chancellor Merkel couldn’t stop the crisis facing what had been a proud and honest party.
Today the polls give the coalition 15 per cent, less than the racial and nationalist party AfD.
Most politicians in the SPD are politically in the middle — coming from the middle class, and are middling in every way!
They manage the country without heart. The 400.000 members (once 1 million) have been desperately disappointed, disorientated and angry.
Which way will Germany go?
After 150 years of history: Which way should the middle go?
- Was it wrong to reduce the welfare state in 2000?
- Should we go the socialist way like Jeremy Corbyn?
- Or an academic-liberal way like the Green Party (today near 20 percent)?
Media in Germany are talking now about the end of social democracy. And in many other EU-countries the story is the same.
Instead of supporting social democracy, the poor, lower-educated and hardworking people vote for nationalist, populist or racial parties.
Which party will produce a really good policy for them? During the Social Democratic century, such a party existed.
What will happen without it?