Withdrawal as SPD leader: Why the bridge builder will be missing

To analyse

Status: October 29, 2021 4:14 p.m.

From the lowest point to the Chancellery in a good two years: The SPD has achieved an unprecedented rise again – and that was also due to Walter-Borjans. Is the SPD becoming a center of unrest again?

An analysis by Georg Schwarte, ARD capital studio

Norbert Walter who? That was the case a good two years ago, when the man who wanted to lead the SPD to 30 percent in a year got into the ring to become party leader. Now they affectionately call him “Nowabo”. And even if it didn’t work out with the 30 percent, the 69-year-old comrade, who had actually been a political retiree, should have been a great stroke of luck for the SPD.

Georg Schwarte
ARD capital studio

Because this unusually indecent person, together with the slightly less indecent Saskia Esken from the dysfunctional “Klimbimfamilie SPD”, formed an almost unsettlingly conspiratorial community. In two years the party made it from the total loss after the escape of a deeply frustrated Andrea Nahles to the Chancellery, where in future the name Olaf Scholz will probably be on the doorbell.

Functioning party headquarters instead of snake pit

At the beginning, the Esken and Nowabo team caused ridicule and malice in the SPD parliamentary group and among those who have always belonged to the club of social know-it-alls. But they delivered and in two years turned the Willy-Brandt-Haus snake pit into a functioning party headquarters. The Basta principle followed at party level what Scholz last preached in the election campaign: respect. Walter-Borjans himself spoke in his letter to the SPD leadership of a “culture of trust” that had emerged.

There were more silent people than party leaders like Franz Müntefering. There were instinctive politicians who ran the store from the gut and sometimes drove it crazy like Sigmar Gabriel – and there was Norbert Walter-Borjans. Its greatest advantage was probably that he didn’t want or have to become anything anymore. Except maybe a happy person at the head of a people’s party who had temporarily lost the people.

mission accomplished

The fact that Walter-Borjans no longer needed a career should also have been helpful in order to possibly make Scholz chancellor in the near future. At that time, Walter-Borjans showed Scholz his limits in the race for the party leadership and at the same time recognized his own. Not everyone would have had the size to make the competitor candidate for chancellor. Nowabo writes: “Mission accomplished”. Mission accomplished. Now is the time to rejuvenate at the top. For renewal anyway.

Legroom for Scholz

Scholz should have fond memories of the past two years and especially last year as a candidate for chancellor, because Walter-Borjans in particular gave Scholz as a candidate what a candidate named Peer Steinbrück once demanded out loud in vain: legroom. Scholz ran, the party assisted. That’s how it went.

Who comes?

Co-chair Esken once quoted Confucius. “If you intend to renew yourself, do it every day.” The SPD is now there again. Will it continue to be renewed with a dual leadership in the future? Will Esken continue? Whether the ex-Juso and Spiritus Rector of the Esken / Walter-Borjans duo, the 32-year-old Kevin Kühnert, will now raise his hand or the Secretary General Lars Klingbeil will rise?

There remain many questions and also for the potential coalition partners the Greens and, above all, the FDP, a few uncertainties as to whether the now pacified SPD party might soon become a center of unrest again, depending on who will determine the course and tone there in the future.

Even if the days of the klimbim family called social democracy have been over for two years, it will not be boring with the SPD in the future either.

The bridge builder leaves – Norbert Walter-Borjans gives up SPD chairmanship

Georg Schwarte, ARD Berlin, October 29, 2021 4:30 p.m.


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