Loren Balhorn in Jacobin:
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) went into last week’s European elections with some bold, albeit vague campaign slogans: “Come together and make Europe strong” was one. “Europe is the answer” was another. Given the party’s humiliating performance, taking in a new historic low of just over 15 percent, one has to wonder whether they were asking the right questions.
The Social Democrats lean hard on “more Europe” as the solution to Germany’s problems, and are far more likely to praise French president Emmanuel Macron than defend the leader of their British sister party, Jeremy Corbyn. They banked on selling themselves as a stable, mildly progressive bulwark against creeping right-wing populism but seem to have lost this role to the Greens, who broke 20 percent in a nationwide election for the first time. The looks on the faces of party chairwoman Andrea Nahles and “wholeheartedly European” top candidate Katarina Barley Sunday night were ones of defeat, out of luck and bereft of ideas for what to do next.
Catastrophic as the election may have been, it was anything but unexpected. The Social Democrats have been lumbering from one defeat to the next for nearly two decades, their toxic brand of what Oliver Nachtwey calls “politics without politics” costing them hundreds of thousands of members and millions of voters. The European elections were merely the latest confirmation of a seemingly unstoppable downward spiral for what was once the proudest, strongest socialist party on earth.