The facade is important to Franziska Giffey and Raed Saleh. Both try their best to demonstrate unity. This applies to the work in the Senate as well as to the party. After the party conference on Sunday, however, the red paint is peeling off and severe cracks appear. Is there even a risk of collapse?

Giffey (59 percent) and Saleh (57) received less than 60 percent of the votes when they were re-elected as state chairmen. For Giffey, who started a year and a half ago as the party’s beacon of hope, this is like a crash. Her expression was accordingly when the result was announced. When she was first elected chair at the end of 2020, she received 90 percent.

The list of allegations against the two chairmen was long before the party congress: the SPD’s unexpectedly poor performance in the 2021 parliamentary elections, the negative attitude to the expropriation referendum, too bourgeois politics, a lack of discussion culture in the party. Nevertheless, even opponents within the party had hardly expected such a bad result for the two.

Although there is a tradition of punishing party leaders in the Berlin SPD, the current result is even worse than the almost 65 percent that the then town hall and state head Michael Müller received when he was re-elected in 2018 – which he himself described as a “temple”. .

It’s probably not as far as it was then. Despite everything, a majority is behind the chairmen: at the party congress, but also in the state executive. Giffey is fresh in office at City Hall.

[We report weekly from the twelve districts of Berlin in our People newsletter. Free and compact: leute.tagesspiegel.de]

Saleh and Giffey tailored many parts of the party to themselves. There is no real competitive figure within the party – especially from the left wing of the party, whose delegates have a significant share in the gossip.

For Giffey and Saleh it is now crucial how they deal with the defeat: Do both allow more internal party discourse, more topics for the left party soul or do they continue to push through their bourgeois course with power? If the latter happens, serious competition would only be a matter of time.