What are the Electoral Prospects for the German Socialist Party?

Katarina Barley is a member of the SPD (Socialist Party of Germany), which is a partner in the “Grand Coalition” with Angela Merkel and the CDU. Ms. Barley is currently Minister of Justice, and is an SPD candidate in next month’s elections for the European Parliament.

In the following interview Ms. Barley answers questions about the upcoming elections, as well as various questions about the SPD’s domestic policies. She deftly dodges the most difficult questions, but a few of her answers are worth noting. Most significantly: she considers anyone who supports the existence of sovereign nation states to be an “enemy of Europe”.

Also: she thinks the call for a 2% increase in spending on NATO to be far too much, more of a financial load than the country could possibly bear.

Many thanks to MissPiggy for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

00:03   Thank you! Madam Minister, you said earlier that you became a candidate for EU parliament because you wanted to help your party.
00:09   Would you say or do you agree that the SPD is currently in one of its deepest crises and struggling to redefine itself?
00:17   The SPD launched a very good welfare program at the beginning of this year, which has gained a great deal of support
00:25   both within its own membership and beyond. Everyone agrees that the SPD has sharpened its profile.
00:35   It is evident, for example, with our Basic Pension Project which has received very large approval in the population.
00:42   This way people who have worked their entire life can have a good pension in old age.
00:47   It still doesn’t seem to affect the voters’ opinion about the SPD. You said you aren’t really concerned about surveys,
00:51   but the results are still not very good currently for the SPD, are they?
00:55   Well, in Europe we are currently at 18%, I think. There is room for improvement, but it’s still a very good start.
01:04   I firmly believe it will be even more until the European elections.
01:08   Now to Germany, you were recently on a tour of East Germany, in Eberswalde and Brandenburg with Olaf Scholz.
01:13   Does the very prominent start there indicate concerns about Brandenburg — a region normally held be the SPD?
01:22   We kicked off our tour there together with Olaf Scholz, myself, and Karsten Schneider, our first parliamentary director,
01:35   along with many other politicians. This is just the beginning. We have hundreds of campaign events scheduled
01:44   until the European elections and the next state elections. We regularly schedule events, but these are larger,
01:51   with a common label, so it is just more noticeable.
01:56   Emmanuel Macron has now voiced his opinion concerning Europe twice.
02:00   Where do you agree with him and where do you disagree? —Above all, I agree with Emmanuel Macron in emphasising
02:06   the importance of Europe. He understands and he says it loud and clear that there is only one way to play
02:11   in this global orchestra — which is together. A single country, no matter how big and mighty within the European union,
02:20   remains a small country worldwide. I also agree with Emmanuel Macron when he says that we must develop
02:29   the economic union into a citizens’ Europe. For us, that means a social Europe. We agree for example, that we should
02:35   have a Europe-wide minimum wage of 60 percent of the average wage. That’s what is needed as we see it.
02:42   Where we don’t agree is the measures he is taking in his domestic policy, which I decline to comment on,
02:50   other than it is not something we would consider very social democratic. As far as Europe is concerned, we certainly have
03:01   another view concerning how much to invest in military spending, for example.
03:06   You have provocative election posters. Who would you call enemy or enemies of Europe?
03:12   Well, there are enemies inside of Europe inside and outside of Europe. Europe’s enemies are all those who want to
03:18   weaken it and there are a few with that intention. It is anyone in Europe who want to go back to having nation states.
03:30   Those who no longer want to cooperate as we have up until now and want to focus on national egoism.
03:39   It is anyone who is trying to split Europe up.
03:43   The SPD has criticised Green Party Chief Robert Habeck’s plan. I’ll jump to the subject of expropriation of rental property.
03:50   What is your position on the subject as Minister of Justice? Why isn’t that a topic for the SPD?
03:55   Our constitution provides for expropriation, so it is permitted. It also applies in this case with plots of land and living space.
04:02   It has been done. Of course special conditions need to be met and it is a very long and costly process.
04:09   Compensation is paid and there are clear rules for the amount. The amount is not open to choice and can’t be a symbolic euro.
04:21   Therefore, if you want to expropriate large residential corporations then you’ll end up paying them a lot of money and
04:28   not a single new residence is created in the process. We prefer the idea of using public funds to build new homes which
04:35   would then lower the prices if possible. Offering affordable prices seems more useful to us.
04:42   You have once again toughened the, as you call it, Rental Rate Emergency Brake. What has the government under
04:47   SPD leadership done wrong that this law had to be reintroduced?
04:52   The Rental Rate Emergency Brake law was already enacted in the last legislative period. During the current
04:58   legislative period, we have evaluated it and found that it is working where it should work, namely,
05:03   in particularly sought-after areas, and it is working. In the meantime, we have toughened it further so tenants can claim
05:13   their rights even more easily. It is often the case with laws that after the first run that not everything works 100% perfect.
05:21   We have improved it now and tenants have a very effective tool which is easier to use.
05:29   I have just two more questions for you. The US Ambassador Richard Grenelle has threatened sanctions on the companies
05:36   involved in Nord Stream 2 project; how do you view that? It that at all possible?
05:40   Nord Stream 2 is a private venture. As a government we should exercise restraint and
05:55   in a similar vein I decline to comment on the American plans.
05:59   After the halftime of the coalition agreement, the SPD would like to decide whether it will continue in the coalition
06:06   or resign if necessary. Assuming the coalition were to end and the SPD would have to score points in foreign policy
06:16   during the election campaign, what is your position on NATO 2% and on relations with Russia?
06:20   This was a coalition agreement of all parties, not only by the SPD. There are too many ifs, ands or buts for me.
06:31   So I’m not going to speculate. Regarding NATO and the two percent target, we have clearly stated that we considered
06:38   it proper to adequately equip the German armed forces rather increasing troops. There’s enough to be done.
06:44   Growth from one to two percent is enormous, we’re talking tens of billions of Euros. To be honest, in the current situation,
06:56   that would be difficult to explain to the population. Regarding Russia, we maintain a close relationship with Russia.
07:04   Russia has always been our partner and will remain one, but of course we are very critical of certain points.
07:11   It is sign of a good relationship that we are able to be critical and firm. —In which points?
07:19   Well, in the annexation of the Crimea, we will continue to represent our position, for example. —Thank-you for your time.

5 thoughts on “What are the Electoral Prospects for the German Socialist Party?

  1. also she said that 16-year-olds should have the right to vote, but that 20-21-year-olds cannot be held responsible for their decisions – if they are perpetrators!

    • If anything, we ought to raise the voting age till it’s more in line with what the actuarial analysts in the car insurance industry say. They keep the rate for those under 25 higher than for the rest of us. I remember getting a discount at age 22 because I was a married female. IOW, I was less a risk.

      My psychopharmacologist says that the executive function in the cortex doesn’t finish maturing till age 25 or so. In the “threshold years” (between sixteen and twenty-five), impulsivity is high. Thus, those insurance folk knew what they were about, though all they relied on was cumulative data on car accidents.

      • very true! I remember what stupid and dangerous stunts we pulled with our first cars within the o.m. age span. Fortunately, it was mostly underpowered VW beetles with their engine and thus weight in the rear. Perfect for making them slide into sharp curves with by pulling the parking brake and flooring the gas simultaneously.
        And no, I didn’t do that on purpose, officer.

  2. The allegation that SPD means Socialist Party of Germany is false. The “S” is an abreviation of “social democrat”. It is true that in the USA but not so much I gather in Canada, the distinction is unknown. Howwever to put it briefly, a social democrat wants gradual change through the system of parliamentary democracy, a socialist does not.

    It is true that over the course of its existence, however, various flavours of conservative representing landlowners, landlords, capital owners in general and (formerly) the Christian churches have equated socialist with social democrat. So for them, social democrat connotes socialist. Especially as from 1917 to 1991, the Reds were under every bed.

    Calling social democrats socialists appears currently to be a feature of the “exceptional country” (Albright, Obama) where there is e.g. no universal health care worth the name, inasmuch as the policies of European conservatives (CDU, Gaullists) are falsely described as “socialist” by many attracted to this website.

    If social democrats like Barley were in fact socialists and not globalists, they would be concerned for the fate of ordinary German workers under mass MENA male invasion, but they are not, as we can see and hear daily.

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