Young Socialists: “Change your course, Olaf”: The Jusos are sharpening their tone

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the SPD have to prepare for headwinds - from within their own ranks.

Young Socialists: “Change your course, Olaf”: The Jusos are sharpening their tone

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the SPD have to prepare for headwinds - from within their own ranks. That is the signal from the Juso federal congress in Braunschweig this weekend. The SPD juniors elected a new chairman: Philipp Türmer, 27, from Hesse. He didn't mince his words. Already in his application speech he asked the Chancellor: "Change your course."

The Jusos have been dissatisfied with the traffic light government for a while - but they have hardly made this known since the federal election. Everything gathered behind Scholz was the motto. But the new boss has had enough of keeping his feet still. Like him, many Jusos long for the time of the "No GroKo" campaign of 2017, when their then boss Kevin Kühnert shook up the party and put a lot of pressure on the top politicians.

Kühnert admits mistakes: he became too satisfied

Kühnert is now general secretary of the SPD - and as such had to put up with a lot at the Juso congress. “Where did this energy go?” asked Türmer. A delegate threatened: "Dear Kevin, your grace period is over. You did not become general secretary on your own." Kühnert has forgotten how to be a Juso. “Don’t let your left-wing, your socialist, your anti-fascist backbone be broken just because your role has changed!” demanded the SPD youth.

Kühnert admitted the SPD's mistakes in the traffic light coalition. “You’re right in some places too,” he said. "That we have become too satisfied in this coalition and too often hide behind arguments that majorities simply aren't there." The Social Democrats need “a little more bumblebees up their asses.”

But the Secretary General didn't just accept. “We can now spend the next two years pointing fingers at each other and accusing ourselves of not taking it seriously enough in the coalition, of not insulting Christian Lindner clearly enough, of not saying this often enough in the morning "The Lord's Prayer was recited, about the fact that the debt brake must be suspended and much more." He doesn't need to be convinced of this. But smarter strategies are needed if you want to organize majorities in traffic lights.

Strong opposition to Scholz's migration policy

A lot of the Jusos' anger is sparked by the traffic light coalition's migration policy - and especially by a statement by Chancellor Scholz. In Braunschweig, delegates held up the front pages of “Spiegel” accusingly, with Scholz’s quote “We finally have to deport people on a large scale.” The Jusos crossed out the word “deport” and replaced it with demands such as “fight climate change” and “build new apartments”.

Kühnert and party leader Saskia Esken found it difficult to defend this sentence. The “Spiegel” cover also frightened her, said Esken. "But if you read the Chancellor's entire interview, you can already see the holistic approach to the traffic light's migration policy. The language, the language is our problem."

The Jusos in Braunschweig saw it differently. "No, it's not the words, but the politics that are the problem, Saskia," emphasized one speaker. A delegate from North Rhine-Westphalia complained that the SPD was denying those seeking protection the right to asylum through its deportation policy.

Kühnert emphasized that he also believes that a payment card for refugees does not solve any problems, but rather harasses people. But one must recognize that the examination of an asylum application can sometimes have a negative result.

Turmer attacks Scholz

Scholz himself did not come to Braunschweig - and yet he was omnipresent in the speeches. “Finally make the fight against poverty and for distributive justice a top priority,” Türmer urged the Chancellor. "Otherwise, next year, if you want our campaign support to hang up posters again, you won't even have to come here."

The people to whom the SPD had promised more respect in the election campaign were turning away from the party, he warned. He is horrified by "how little this Chancellor does for those who so deserve his respect." Juso vice-president Sarah Mohamed emphasized that the SPD was acting downwards against the weakest. That is “unworthy of social democracy.” “I want us as Jusos to be strongly positioned to turn the SPD to the left,” demanded Mohamed.

Jusos are divided

Türmer and Mohamed both ran for the federal presidency and ran a tough election campaign. They were supported by various state associations that loudly promoted their candidates at the federal congress. Türmer prevailed against the 31-year-old from North Rhine-Westphalia with 54 percent of the vote.

After the result was announced, Mohamed's supporters were disappointed and even shed tears. On the other side, delegates hugged each other and cheered. This caused conflicts: participants felt uncomfortable, the awareness team said. Such a team offers support against discrimination, abusive behavior and sexual violence at events. Delegates were pushed and had bottles thrown at them, and some wanted to leave. The mood between both camps is tense. Mohamed was re-elected as deputy chairwoman on Sunday in order to “unify” the Jusos again.