Over the weekend, as snow blanketed Brandenburg state, Germany’s Social Democrat Party gathered behind closed doors in a red brick building in the small town of Nauen, around 30 km west of Berlin. But the members of the left-leaning junior government coalition partner weren’t there for the picturesque 19th century architecture or the town’s 20th century history as a short wave broadcast center. The delegates were there to determine the party’s future direction.
“We have to ensure that Germany’s federal states remain unified,” was SPD Chairman and federal Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel’s main message to the party. He stressed the need for a strategy to build national strength, comprising education, integration, accommodation supply, and jobs.
Mr. Gabriel called on Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the Christian Democrats, the senior coalition partner, to find a solution to the refugee crisis by spring. After more than 1 million asylum-seekers arrived in the country last year, he said the demand for fast-tracked deportation of people who are not granted refugee status belies the fact that “we are still not able to process asylum applications as quickly as we promised.”
“We have to stick to what we’ve promised, instead of every day launching some new idea,” he said.