The Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician Torsten Albig, the Prime Minister of one of Germany’s 16 states, has said it’s essentially pointless for his party, the country’s second strongest, to run a candidate against Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2017.
Albig is not a very popular name in the top ranks of SPD right now, after the Schleswig-Holstein state premier went on air Friday saying there was no real point in running anyone against current Chancellor Angela Merkel at the next election because it would be “stupid to think that we could win.
“Not very smart,” and “lacking honour for the party,” were among the reactions from his own party. He even got burned by other opposition parties, with a Left representative accusing Albig of “sucking up” to the chancellor and damaging German democracy in the process.
A politician tells the truth?
Asked about the chances SPD head Sigmar Gabriel would have against Merkel, Albig told public broadcaster NDR on Friday, “I’m sure he would do an excellent job, but I think it would be difficult to win against the current chancellor.”
In response to the follow-up question as to the SPD’s goals in the 2017 election, Albig said: “I think it would be good if we were just part of the government. For us to go in there in thinking we could win is just stupid. Nobody would take us seriously.”
Before the end of the interview, however, Albig pulled out one SPD-praising card.
“2017 is a long way off. But let me just say that if the vote were tomorrow, it would be better if the SPD were part of the elected government than for Merkel’s CDU to run by itself.”
Albig was probably very aware of the latest domestic political survey – released just after the interview on Friday – that suggests less than 25 percent of Germans would vote for the SPD. Over 40 percent told public broadcaster ZDF they would keep their trust in Merkel, keeping with the dominance the CDU had in the last federal election in 2013.
If you were wondering, Albig didn’t say in the interview who he would vote for.
…Merkel’s Christian Democrats to consider supporting immigration bill
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lawmakers are to discuss plans for a new, comprehensive immigration law in September. But many in the party are against it, arguing that current regulation is sufficient.
Germany’s ruling CDU appears to be inching closer towards writing a much-debated new immigration bill.
A party spokesman confirmed a report published in news magazine “Der Spiegel” on Friday that said the CDU would pave the way for such a bill in September and then fine-tune it at the party’s convention in December.
A report published by a CDU working group at the beginning of July will serve as a basis for the discussion. That document points out that there are already “several pieces of legislation on immigration” that should be “put together in a better and non-contradictory way.” Crucially, it also states that Germany is an “immigration country” for the first time ever.
In the past, members of German conservative Christian parties have said they do not see the nation as a country of immigrants, and they have struggled forming their approach to immigration despite a shortage of skilled workers in its highly developed and diversified economy.
Merkel has also dithered on the subject for some time, with other party members split on whether a new law clarifying Germany’s stance on immigration and unifying current rules was indeed needed.
But in a sign that the conservatives’ views are changing, Merkel said at the recent 70th anniversary celebrations of the CDU that “Germany is the second-most popular immigration destination. The CDU sometimes doesn’t like to talk about it much.”
She had stopped short, however, of endorsing an immigration bill, as proposed by the CDU’s General Secretary Peter Tauber at the beginning of the year. Tauber met with fierce resistance from other prominent party members, including Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who says there is no need for new regulations.
The Social Democrats, who are in coalition with the CDU, and the opposition Greens have long been in favour of an immigration law.