Germany and the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands

Matthias Scantamburlo*, Ed Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter discusses the German SPD’s European election campaign in 2019 and its atrocious results. Germany’s political class and the large majority of its public are avowedly pro-European. However, since the global financial crisis of 2008, the SPD, while continuing to support European integration, had backed away from some of its commitments to ‘Social Europe’, mindful of the constraints of public opinion. The 2019 manifesto saw a pivot back to endorsement of Social Europe, but the party found itself in a crowded space. Its election campaign failed to resonate, and it was outflanked by other parties: by the Greens on climate change, by the Alternative for Germany amongst voters hostile to immigration, and even on Social Europe the party’s record in government with the CDU/CSU undermined the credibility of its message. The party’s key theme in its lacklustre campaign, that European integration was a good thing, was far too bland and unprepossessing to cut through. The results proved a disaster, and led to the resignation of the party’s leader, and subsequent election of a more left-wing party leadership, as a majority of members had concluded that a more distinctive profile was required.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEurope and the Left
Subtitle of host publicationResisting the Populist Tide
EditorsJames L. Newell
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-54541-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-54540-6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameChallenges to Democracy in the 21st Century
ISSN (Print)2946-3416
ISSN (Electronic)2946-3424


  • social democracy
  • SPD
  • political parties


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