Martin Schulz is going to give a hard time to Angela Merkel in the 24th September federal elections in Germany, as polls are showing. For the first time in a decade, the Social Democratic Party (SPD,) with Schulz as a candidate for chancellorship, has surpassed Merkel’s Christian Democrats scoring 33% against 32% in the last polls. Fear of the poll results has made Wolfgang Schauble, the notorious Minister of Economics, to attack him by calling him a Trump-like populist because Schulz’s followers in social media use the slogan “Make Europe Great Again”.
Schulz was a member of the European Parliament for 23 years and its President for the last 5 during which the European Union faced a lot of problems of economic and political nature. Schulz, as the President of the Parliament, tried to emphasise the advantages of a country being a member of the EU when words like Grexit, Brexit and Frexit were circulating news and creating fears about Europe’s future. Somebody would think that holding a so high rank position in a European institution could be a serious advantage for any candidate in every country. Unfortunately for him, this is not the case in Germany.
His rivals continually stress that Schulz has been outside of Germany for way too long. They accuse him of having little experience in German politics. Truth is that Schulz has never held a domestic office in his motherland. His German political experience is limited to being a mayor of Wurselen back in 1998. But these facts don’t seem to stop his way to the top. Being an outsider and far away from intrigues inside Germany has made him able to criticise the old system and brought him close to voters who have grown tired of Merkel’s way of dealing with problems.
The present German government is based on a coalition of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and Sigmar Gabriel’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). At the end of January Gabriel, who lost the 2013 elections to Merkel, decided to give his place as a candidate chancellor to Schulz because he thinks that he has better chances to win. Critics said that no real democratic procedures were followed in that case so how can someone expect democracy if he is finally elected.
Up until January, Angela Merkel, the iron chancellor of Germany, was having an easy time facing the threat of SPD. She has been holding the office for 11 consecutive years and she has managed to give the economy a big push even if the global environment is not ideal. Inside the EU, Germany has been established as the country that leads in many decisions and has formed a team of mostly central and north EU countries that follow its directions in matters of policy.
Merkel was the one that introduced first a minimum wage in Germany. Moves like that made voters of SPD to defect to far-left and far-right political parties. Angela Merkel was being seen like the only person who could be chancellor with no viable alternative. Schulz came to fill up that gap.
People like Schulz’s optimism and they think that he can act like a catalyst in creating new and better things. He will try to win back voters by promising a better system of redistribution of funds and an improvement of social welfare. His target will be the center left voting citizens that grew tired of SPD losses. Angela Merkel might be having a serious rival after many years.