Martin Schulz

The Rise of the Underdog

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    By appealing to people’s emotions, Martin Schulz could pose a real challenge to the sober, rational Angela Merkel in September’s election.

  • Facts


    • Martin Schulz left school without any qualifications and trained to be a bookseller before entering politics.
    • After stepping down as president of the European Parliament, the SPD named him as their chancellor candidate in September’s election.
    • Since then the party has bounced back in the polls, and is now at the same level as Chancellor Merkel’s CDU.
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SPD-Kanzlerkandidat Martin Schulz
Playing the underdog, Martin Schulz, is adept at appealing to voters' emotions. Source: DPA

It is a stormy day when Martin Schulz emerges from Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church. And then, something strange happens: the square in front of the church is empty, no one wants to take his photograph, shake his hand, or pat him on the back. A rare moment – for once, the SPD chancellor candidate has some time for himself.

It’s been a long day. He has met with Brandenburg’s premier, Dietmar Woidke, and made a number of campaign appearances, as he has done for weeks now. But now in the roaring wind, after Father Christian Wolff gave him a private tour of the church, Mr. Schulz is left alone with his thoughts.

Visiting churches always reminds him of his youth, of the other schoolchildren at his Catholic’s boys’ school, of the high school students at the Holy Spirit Missionary School and his youthful rage. “I didn’t want to listen to anyone.”

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