The long-time SPD state chairman and opposition leader Ralf Stegner sees his party in Schleswig-Holstein facing a difficult task given the two-thirds majority of the black-green coalition. "This is a marathon and we haven't really gotten out of the starting blocks well yet," Stegner told the German Press Agency. Doing politics against the large majority and the popular Prime Minister Daniel Günther (CDU) requires a lot of endurance and persistence.
After moving to the Bundestag, Stegner said he wanted to hold back on giving public advice to his party colleagues. But it is not nice to see that the SPD in Schleswig-Holstein is the only state in northern Germany that is currently far away from government responsibility. The party did not win a direct mandate in the 2022 state election, only came in third place behind the CDU and the Greens and for the first time in decades it performed below the SPD's national average. "All of this didn't exist before." In addition, there is currently no tailwind in federal politics.
Stegner praised the work of former opposition leader Thomas Losse-Müller. He was succeeded at the head of the parliamentary group by state chairwoman Serpil Midyatli in September. “I think Thomas Losse-Müller offered a good intellectual and conceptual counterbalance to the Prime Minister,” said Stegner. In terms of temperament, however, he is not a combative speaker. The state party must take on an orientation function.
The SPD, as a left-wing people's party, must take care of its bread and butter issues of work, health, pensions, rent, energy prices as well as the environment and peace, said Stegner. “That has to be the focus.” Clear language is necessary. “The SPD always had a clear profile in the north.” The party is now oriented too much towards other urban milieus. "It saddens me to see how low our approval ratings are in Schleswig-Holstein at the moment."
A clear stance against the government is necessary, said Stegner. But the opposition must also cooperate on important issues. "I realize that this is a difficult task and there is no magic bullet."
Stegner described Midyatli's initiative to present a Schleswig-Holstein pact to the government as communicatively challenging. If this is an announcement not to form a fundamental opposition, but to support certain things that are in the country's interest, then this is the right approach.