Two years ago, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) switched from the opposition to the government bench. Today it is engaging in self-congratulation at its party congress in Berlin. Evaluation of the first half of the game: the team has a striker who should be taken seriously; the other players tend to make own goals.
Parts of the SPD lack basic economic knowledge. Unfortunately, this lies in the nature of things: The party is scarcely represented in the Bundestag, Germany’s lower legislative chamber, through direct mandates (only 58 of 193 SPD seats), but in three out of four cases by list positions. The SPD had fewer direct mandates only when it was pursuing socialist goals before its adoption of the Godesberg Program in 1959, whereupon it came to advocate a market economy and national defense.
The candidates on the lists are selected not by voters, but primarily by mid-level, ideologically committed party functionaries who derive their income from the state or from the unions. They have little contact with the private economy that is constantly struggling to remain rooted on site while being buffeted by the storms of competition.