Martin Schulz appears to have everything on track. Currently, he is looking toward a likely victory in May for his Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the regional elections of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia. Shortly thereafter, in June, Mr. Schulz will unveil his party’s platform for this fall’s federal elections. Taxes, pensions and education are all on the agenda.
Yet there’s one issue where the Social Democrat candidate for chancellor is noticeably vague: Europe.
This is somewhat surprising – and not just because Mr. Schulz was a member of the European Parliament for 20 years and its president for five. In these turbulent times, the European Union has regained some of its popular appeal as a bulwark against the nationalism that threatens both here and in the US.
In France, Emmanuel Macron, the former finance minister vying to become president this year, has climbed in the opinion polls, not despite his support for the EU, but because of it.
When Mr. Schulz praises Europe’s open borders and freedoms he gets standing ovations. But he is reluctant to pin down a vision for the 28-nation bloc. He says little on further financial aid for Greece, the future of the common currency, or Turkey’s slide toward authoritarianism.