The day after Gerhard Schröder’s new, sensational interview, there was no comment from the top of the party, from which many comrades want to throw him out. We ask for your understanding that the request is not answered, said the SPD press office.
With his theses in the “Stern” on Germany’s gas supply from Russia, the war against Ukraine and his personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin, the former chancellor had managed to undercut his previous political and human standards – and in the opinion of the SPD leadership and many other German politicians have been quite deep.
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj called the statements made by the chancellor of the red-green coalition (1998 to 2005) “disgusting”. After his trip to Moscow, he claimed that Russia wanted a negotiated solution and suggested that the agreement on grain exports could be expanded into a ceasefire.
Zelenskyy said: “It’s just disgusting when former leaders of powerful states with European values work for Russia, which fights against these values.”
The Social Democrats in power in Germany would have had reason to make a similar assessment if they had come to the conclusion that it would be expedient to comment on the former chancellor’s theses. Because Schröder not only adopted the Kremlin’s narrative, according to which Siemens was to blame for the throttling of the gas flow.
He openly attacked Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s theses and reiterated Moscow’s dangerous claim that the weakest in society would now have to pay for the West’s sanctions against Russia.
That is a reading that the Social Democrats have to fear before an autumn and winter in which prices rise, energy becomes scarce and people with lower incomes can sit in cold apartments.
The timing of his renewed attack is also amazing. Because in a few days, a first arbitration court of the SPD will decide whether Gerhard Schröder can remain in the party. “The decision in the party order proceedings against Gerhard Schröder will be made against applicants and opponents next Monday, August 8, 2022,” said Christoph Matterne, Chief Executive of the SPD district in Hanover. And further: “Shortly thereafter, the media will also be informed.”
Because of Schröder’s closeness to Putin, his relativization of his responsibility for the war and because of the former chancellor’s commitment to Russian state-owned companies, a total of 17 corresponding applications from district and local organizations for a party organization procedure had been received.
Former and current leaders of the Social Democrats have repeatedly appealed to Schröder to scale back his commitment to Russian corporations and to stop taking sides with the war criminal Putin.
But the louder the calls became to stop spreading the Kremlin’s reading, the more stubborn Schröder seemed to become. He didn’t want and doesn’t want to be fooled. He did not appear for the party order procedure. The interview a few days before the decision to expel the party now seems like the announcement: look, none of that impresses me, I stand by my opinion.
The former chancellor again rejects a break with his friend Putin. He had “condemned the war several times” and at the same time asked whether personal distancing would “really do anyone any good”. The former chancellor added: “Maybe I can be useful again. So why should I apologize?”
This stubbornness could become a problem, especially for his own national association. At the beginning of October, the state parliament is elected, and Prime Minister Stephan Weil needs an ugly argument about Schröder’s loyalty to Moscow and the attitude of the SPD like a millstone around his neck.
For this reason, the various scenarios have long since been played out by the comrades in Hanover. The hardest variant would be an actual party expulsion of the former chancellor. In the SPD, it is considered unlikely that the arbitration commission will use this means, but not ruled out.
The comrades could also grant Schröder a kind of grace period and withdraw his membership rights for a limited period of time. Schröder is considered self-confident enough to appeal in any case. The state elections should be over before the next instance, the Hanover District Arbitration Commission, deals with the matter.