Martin Schulz, the SPD’s chancellor candidate, was hardly happy about outcome of the state elections in Schleswig-Holstein. The CDU scored 32% (+1,2) while the SPD went down to 27,2% (-3,2). Greens (12,9%, -0,3) and Liberals (11,5%, +3,3) did comparatively well. The AfD managed to enter Parliament, albeit with a low 5,9% (+5,9) while the Pirate party, scoring 1,2% (-7) decisively missed the threshold. Possible explanations were quick to be found: SPD General Secretary Katarina Barley dismissed her party’s loss as being mainly caused by an unfortunate home-story interview which the SPD’s lead candidate Thorsten Albig gave, although he did well in polls. In any way, Mr Schulz’s image as saviour of the Social Democrats is lost.
The last test whether Mr Schulz’s arguments resonate comes this weekend, when North-Rhine Westphalia’s 14 million voters elect a new parliament: The state’s incumbent premier, Hannelore Kraft (SPD), has so far failed to stop the CDU’s momentum in the state, leading to a stalemate in the polls after months of SPD domination.
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s dealing with right-wing extremism within the German Bundeswehr is another focus of public debate this week. While testimonies about Nazi rituals and souvenirs mount, a second supporter of the alleged terrorist Franco A. has been arrested.
On European politics, Ms Merkel welcomed Emmanuel Macron’s victory: Ms Merkel expressed that she looks forward to work confidentially together. Mr Schulz expressed hope that Mr Macron will have to work with a similarly “convinced European,” in Berlin, probably referring to himself. Mr Schulz, in his speech outlined above, however also defended the German trade surplus, which had been criticised by Mr Macron. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) was milder: In his new book, he demands to allow France (and others) to break budget deficit rules in order to invest.
Ms Merkel’s Press Secretary Steffen Seibert, in coordination with the Foreign Ministry, stated that a (still hypothetical) Turkish referendum on the death penalty in Germany would be banned.