The FT asks today (behind the dreaded ppv firewall I’m afraid) whether the current “Kapitalismus” debate in Germany may not represent something more than short-term electioneeering. Could a real shift in the SPD be actually taking place?
The most ignominious defeat of Gerhard Schr?der’s political career may be at hand. On Sunday, in the 12th regional election since Mr Schr?der, the chancellor, scraped back into national office in 2002, polls suggest that his Social Democratic party will be routed in North Rhine-Westphalia – Germany’s most populous state, the industrial heartland of the country’s postwar economic miracle and an SPD bastion for decades.
Defeat would not only turf the SPD out of regional government in the state for the first time since 1966 but would end the last ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Greens in any of Germany’s 16 regions, leaving the federal government in Berlin as the last “red-green” partnership in the country.
The central point is: where is all this leading? It is far from clear. There is a clear danger of electoral setbacks in Germany and a ‘no’ in the French referendum producing an ‘anti-reform’ backlash, with growing protectionism as a backdrop.