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German Social Democrats’ Election Defeat in North Rhine-Westphalia: A Man-Made Disaster

May 15, 2017 (EIRNS)—With the election in North-Rhine Westphalia (N.R.W.) on Sunday, the German Social Democrats not only lost the third state election in a row (after Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein), they also lost in Germany’s most-populous state, which has 23% of the national electorate. Like Schleswig-Holstein on Sunday, May 7, N.R.W. has also been taken by the Christian Democrats. The defeat in N.R.W. shows the Social Democrats in very bad shape for the September national election, with particularly its Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz far from posing any challenge to the Christian Democrats’ Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose re-election is almost certain now. The defeats of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the three state elections are a man-made disaster, and the man’s name is Martin Schulz.

The "Schulz bonus" which the Social Democrats believed in after he got elected Chancellor candidate and national party chairman with 100% of party convention delegates, turns out to have been a very short-lived illusion, all the more dangerous for the party, as it has forgotten to think about formulating any real programmatic alternative to Merkel’s policy. Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament, stands for the same policies as Merkel, whose congruence in positions is also noted by 66% of the electorate in opinion polls. Why vote for Schulz, if he is no different from Merkel, most voters ask themselves.

But a re-election of the Merkel course, which is actually based on the big illusion that Germany and Europe can continue to make politics with the discredited values out of the trans-Atlantic cookbook, would be a disaster. Not least the giant impact that the Silk Road Summit in Beijing this past weekend—which Merkel refused to attend—has globally on the discussion of alternatives to the ailing Western economic-financial system, shows that the world is changing rapidly, that new ideas for the well-being of mankind as a whole are urgently needed. Europe, and Merkel’s Germany in particular, hold on to the illusion that globalization, free market conditions, climate protection, and the exit from nuclear power technology are the future, whereas the vast majority of the world have begun to think differently. Merkel (like Schulz) still believe in a "Europe" which has already been deserted by the British with their "Brexit," and she tries to hold onto a United States in a Cold War confrontation with Russia and China, which no longer exists since Donald Trump won the November presidential election.

A real alternative to Merkel would acknowledge the global political changes in a constructive way, linking Germany and Europe to the pro-industrial, pro-development optimism reflected in the New Silk Road strategy; it would enhance active cooperation with Russia and China. The SPD in N.R.W. could have capitalized on the fact that Duisport is the key hub for China’s rail freight to Europe, and after all, Xi Jinping’s historic Germany visit in 2014 brought him to Duisport, at which event a Eurasian Land-Bridge map (resembling very much the one we are using) was publicly displayed, in the presence of SPD N.R.W. government officials. Duisport is the fastest-growing region in N.R.W., thanks to the Silk Road project. One should have thought that even if the SPD had run a regional-issues election campaign, Duisport would have appeared in that.

The Social Democrats have not done that, neither during the election campaign nor before; they are apparently incapable of, and also unwilling to, formulate such a Silk Road alternative to Merkel; and therefore their defeat in the September national election is pre-programmed.