Parties: “Loud, critical” - Will the Jusos become a problem for Scholz?

We haven't heard much from the Jusos in recent years - until a few weeks ago.

Parties: “Loud, critical” - Will the Jusos become a problem for Scholz?

We haven't heard much from the Jusos in recent years - until a few weeks ago. Then they found clear words - and they were directed at their comrade, Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In the “Spiegel” he had promised deportations “on a large scale”. The Jusos were angry: “A demand straight from the vocabulary of the right-wing mob,” posted the SPD youth on X (formerly Twitter). “I could vomit at this quote,” wrote the then Juso vice-president Philipp Türmer.

For the first time since Scholz was chosen as their candidate for chancellor, the Jusos, and thus parts of the SPD in general, are attacking the chancellor so loudly. Can this new self-image become a problem for Scholz two years before the federal election - similar to what former Juso boss Kevin Kühnert once was with his "No GroKo" campaign?

The new Juso boss, who was elected in Braunschweig, speaks for this. Türmer, 27, from Hesse does not shy away from criticizing the Chancellor. In the newspapers of the Funke media group he announced a tough course against Scholz: "I think it is urgently necessary that we Jusos accompany the Chancellor and his line much more critically from now on."

Jusos as a left corrective

Türmer is “loud, critical and left-wing,” says political scientist Anna-Sophie Heinze of the German Press Agency. Heinze is spokesperson for the party research working group of the German Association for Political Science (DVPW) and academic councilor at the University of Trier. In terms of content, he aims to position the Jusos as a clearly left-wing corrective force in the SPD.

Türmer, a Juso veteran, wants to raise the question of distribution. This requires independent Jusos who seek more conflict with the party, he says. "If I have the impression that the Chancellor is not pursuing social democratic policies, then I will distance myself from him."

Change of course

This is a completely different course than that of Jessica Rosenthal, the previous head of Juso. She represented a much calmer leadership style than her predecessor Kühnert. In 2021, Rosenthal entered the Bundestag, but continued to lead the youth organization. “In such a situation it is much more difficult to express criticism than without a mandate,” says Heinze.

There are people in the SPD who say that Kühnert's footsteps were too big. A clear line was missing under Rosenthal. She missed the chance to organize the “49ers” in the Bundestag. 49 of the 206 SPD MPs were under 35 years old at the time of the federal election - i.e. Jusos. But the effect of the young savages fizzled out and the supposed left-wing revolution in parliament failed to materialize.

Rosenthal is retiring as Juso chairwoman because she is having a child. She is satisfied with her performance at the head of the SPD youth organization: "We have made it clear: it is not enough for us that others decide about our future. We want to have a say," she says. The demands of the Jusos were also reflected in the coalition agreement: the abolition of paragraph 219a, the legalization of cannabis, the introduction of citizens' money and the guarantee of training places.

Issue of migration policy

But now the Young Socialists are not only facing a change in leadership, but also a change in direction. “I assume that there will be more ruckus from the Jusos again, at the latest at the party conference in December,” says Heinze. The biggest points of contention are likely to be migration and asylum policy and how to deal with the AfD's strong poll numbers. "They have already made it clear that the Jusos do not agree with the Chancellor's demand for more deportations." There are clear differences in the programs of the Jusos and SPD - so that friction between the youth and the parent party is foreseeable.

No approach in sight

Chancellor Scholz is not facing this confrontation for the time being. For the second time in a row he skipped the Juso federal congress - the Chancellor turned down the invitation to Braunschweig for scheduling reasons. The fact that he is not coming also speaks “for the conflictual relationship between the Jusos and the SPD,” says scientist Heinze.

Many Jusos are not enthusiastic. But Scholz will already feel the new wind, says Türmer. He is sure "that the Jusos' messages and demands from this congress will be so loud that he will notice them - no matter where he is."