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2005-11-01

What elections do to socialdemocrats 

"The SPD slaughters its chairman by mistake" is how the media describe what happened in Germany yesterday. Franz Müntefering, the seemingly unassailable Schröder-buddy, SPD-chairman, and designated vice-chancellor has said good-bye to the party job (his government-job may be the next to go) after suffering a resounding 14:23 defeat for his candidate Kajo Wasserhövel for the job of party-general-secretary, a position traditionally appointed by the chairman.

The source of the trouble is 35-year old 'left-winger' Andrea Nahles, who dared to run against Müntefering's favorite. Until recently Nahles was leading an election-weblog here [DE]. She is now portrayed unfavourably by almost everyone with the means to do so, for example German political weblog lautgeben.de [DE]:
My first contact with Andrea Nahles was an unpleasant one. I had drunk too much and suddenly a voice in my ear, which was not supposed to be there. At least so I thought. Andrea Nahles is neither particularly pretty, nor could she be called pleasant company. With her loud mouth she always proclaims how important the Left supposedly is in the SPD, that the values of socialdemocracy are in danger and that anyway too many people are far too neoliberal. One may agree, or one may not. In any case one never ever wants to hear that from the mouth of Andrea Nahles, the party-careerist from Rheinland-Pfalz.
In the same vein, public broadcaster ARD showed a picture of Nahles posing as a scantily clad bodybuilder. I almost feel sympathy for her.

In contrast to the German chaos, the Austrian socialdemocrats are basking in the glory of their three recent regional election wins. It now looks as if the next general election expected in autumn 2006 is theirs to lose. They are running a feel-good mid-term poster campaing with the slogan "Austria deserves a better future [DE]", and suprisingly their lame regional branch in Carinthia province, where politics is still dominated by local tycoon Jörg Haider, has just elected an eloquent and promising new leader, 40-year old Gaby Schaunig [DE].


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