Former Chancellor

'Our Party System Is in Turmoil'

Gerhard Schröder (ehemaliger niedersächsischer Ministerpräsident - SPD) spricht am 01.07.2015 vor dem Gästehaus der Landesregierung in Hannover (Niedersachsen) vor Medienvertretern. Foto: Holger Hollemann/dpa [ Rechtehinweis: Verwendung weltweit, usage worldwide ]
Gerhard Schröder talks refugees and the fortunes of his SPD party.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Gerhard Schröder is still an influential voice in German politics, over a decade after narrowly losing to Angela Merkel in the 2005 elections.

  • Facts


    • Mr. Schröder’s party, the center-left Social Democrats, are the junior coalition partner to Chancellor Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats.
    • The SPD’s official position is to support an open refugee policy, but its voters are divided on the issue.
    • Mr. Schröder calls for a modern immigration and integration law that provides additional funding for state and local governments to cope with the refugee crisis.
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Germany’s political landscape is changing, says former German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, with big-tent parties being challenged by newer, more radical parties like the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany. The refugee crisis, in his view, has fundamentally changed the way voters view Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, which was once known for promoting negative views of foreigners.

Mr. Schröder, since the end of your term in office, you have declined to give interviews right after elections. What’s different this time?

Mr. Schröder: The situation is different. Our party system is in turmoil. Europe faces serious challenges in the refugee issue. And my party, the SPD, could use some encouragement. So I thought to myself: This time you have to say something.

What was your first thought as the results for the three state elections came in on the evening of March 13?

I was prepared for the fact that the results would not be phenomenal for the SPD everywhere. That’s one reason I was so pleased about the success of Malu Dreyer, who was re-elected as state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate. So my first thought was: We managed to pull it off once again.

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