With this interview, the former party leader Sigmar Gabriel may not have done his comrades in Saxony any favors. In a conversation with WDR, Gabriel warns urgently of an increasing shift to the right in Germany and complains about the lack of social commitment in view of the AfD's rise.
So far, so good, so unproblematic. However, passages in which Gabriel calls for support for the state's CDU Prime Minister, Michael Kretschmer, in the run-up to the state elections in Saxony in September are particularly striking. “The only person I know for whom I would campaign as a Social Democrat is the CDU Prime Minister in Saxony,” said Gabriel.
"He's going into the street election campaign and into the hand-to-hand fight with the AfD and won't let himself be scared away or intimidated," said Gabriel. “We need guys like that now,” he added. Gabriel, in the interview, called it "unbelievable" that more people in Germany did not oppose the AfD given the high poll numbers.
Gabriel also called on the current SPD leadership to support Kretschmer. “It would be easy for the Bundestag to think about what we can actually do for this country and for this Prime Minister so that he shows that he is successful and gets elected,” he continued to tell WDR. “To do this you would have to skip the party political little diamond.” The common goal must be to weaken the AfD.
Gabriel's statements are doubly explosive. Last week, a Civey survey became known, according to which the SPD in Saxony only achieved approval of 3 percent. The FDP is at 1 percent. The strongest force is the AfD with 37 percent, ahead of the CDU with 30 percent. The Greens (8 percent) and the Left (7 percent) are only just above the 5 percent hurdle.
In addition, Michael Kretschmer, who was so praised by Gabriel, has recently repeatedly attracted attention with polarizing statements. The SPD and the Greens accuse him of adopting AfD narratives, for example in refugee policy or in dealing with Russia. Among other things, the Saxon Prime Minister is promoting efforts to resume gas deliveries from Russia.
Gabriel also complained about the lack of social engagement against the right. "I don't know of any cultural initiative, no writers, artists, no politicians, no heads of large companies - except for a very few - who are committed to this," said Gabriel on WDR. "Instead, we're just twiddling our thumbs here and letting this happen to us."
The former SPD leader also did not give his own party a good report: "In my opinion, the Social Democrats have a wrong image of their traditional electorate. They are very committed to people who have no income and care about citizens' money. But the biggest social question in this country for many people is how they should actually pay their rent. My party is also practically silent on issues such as this devastating Pisa study and the German education system."
Sources: WDR, AFP