Germany’s centre left under pressure

Fedor Ruhose and Dominic Schwickert present five recommondations for the social democrats to overcome current challanges

After the establishment of a new grand coalition on 14th of March 2018 in Germany, Fedor Ruhose, Policy Fellow at Das Progressive Zentrum, and DPZ-Director Dominic Schwickert analyse the current state of the centre-left parties, in particular the SPD. They point out upcoming challenges in the national and European context and set out five key challenges which German social democrats must overcome.

In their op-ed for State of Left, Fedor Ruhose and Dominic Schwickert identify two central challenges for the social democrats in Germany. Firstly, the German social democrats face a lack of trust in their ability to govern. Secondly, the social democrats have to proof themselves as the driving force for EU reforms in Europe.

In order to make an electoral comeback and be prepared for the upcoming tasks in Europe, Fedor Ruhose and Dominic Schwickert lay out five recommendations.

  1. The SPD has to regain the confidence of voters and party members, who have expressed their discontent with the party by addressing the internal traumas of the past. This can be achieved by including solid plans to lessen wealth inequality and improve social mobility, two areas where the social democrats have lacked profile recently.
  2. The party must continue to renew its personnel and promote diversity. It has the unique opportunity to empower over 24,000 mostly young members who have joined since 2018 – but it needs the right organisational structure to do so, with new forms of participation.
  3. The SPD must develop new policy ideas as the party has lost profile over the recent years. Big ideas on tackling nationalist populism, regulating digital capitalism, coping with structural change or a positive migration agenda offer the chance to win back a profile.
  4. The party must strengthen its campaign machine. In Eastern and Southern Germany, the SPD has major structural problems with areas totally lacking any party organisation. Reconnecting with traditional partners like trade unions and civil society group could be a solution.
  5. The SPD must establish new forms of communications. Establishing new party offices in the former heartland regions will have to be part of a strategy to reconnect.

Read the full article on “State of the Left“.


Dominic Schwickert

Executive Director of Das Progressive Zentrum
Dominic Schwickert has been Executive Director of Das Progressive Zentrum since 2012. He has proven expertise in the field of political and strategic consulting. Dominic worked i.a. for Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Bertelsmann Stiftung, IFOK GmbH, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, German Bundestag as well as for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Fedor Ruhose

Policy Fellow
Fedor Ruhose is State Secretary in the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Transformation and Digitalization of Rhineland-Palatinate. Between 2014 and 2021, he worked as the Executive Director of the SPD parliamentary group in the state parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate.

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