Thursday, February 9, 2017

Martin Schulz

Schulz who? No, I am neither writing about Charles M. Schulz, creator of Snoopy who frequently shouts: Curse you, Red Baron! nor about Sergeant Hans Schultz a somewhat dumb Oberfeldwebel in the TV series Hogan's Heroes.

The name Schulz or better Schulze refers to the village elder who in the Middle Ages was, as in the case of Freiburg, called Schultheiß, the titel of an elected official serving as a judge: a Schultheiß heißt (points out) die Schuld (the guilt) to the delinquent.

A name even for Germans hard to get used to (©Der Spiegel)
Martin Schulz is no judge but he was mayor of Würselen a small town near Aachen for eight years before he became member and later president (speaker) of the European Parliament in Strasburg. Now after five years he was looking for a new job and it happened - with actual party chairman Sigmar Gabriel dropping out - that the German Social Democrats - Europe's oldest democratic party - were looking for the top candidate in our upcoming federal elections on September 24.

©ZDF/Die Heute Show
Suddenly old aunt SPD is getting a boost. Germany's grand old party forbidden by Bismarck built and defended the Weimar Republic after the First World War. It was the only party that stood up and voted against Hitler's Ermächtigungsgesetz in 1933 (Enabling Act). It now is spreading hope in a world of autocrats.

 With Martin Schulz as designated chairman running for chancellor SPD poll results within a week were up by 7% from a meager 20% while Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats were faced with a 2% decline from 36 to 34%. It looks like a miracle so Der Spiegel portrayed Schulz as Saint Martin.

Candidate Martin Schulz's craving for power (©Der Spiegel)
In its last 2016 issue Der Spiegel wrote about the Gerhard Schröder era. The old chancellor said, the SPD must always claim to rule the country but when looking at depressed party chairman Sigmar Gabriel I could imagine that Schröder ended his wisdom with a quotation from Luther that he had used earlier: Aus einem verzagten Arsch kommt kein fröhlicher Furz (You will not get a joyful fart out of a despaired arse).

Schröder was an egomaniac but he gave to his voters the feeling of a new beginning, of reforms and a better life. He is admired and hated for his Hartz IV reforms pushing unemployed persons back into work by reducing subsistence dramatically for long-term unemployed.

Is Schulz the new Schröder? Der Spiegel calls him an ambitious man but does he have the required experience? The fact that the SPD hopeful has so far not been involved in Berlin politics is an asset but at the same time a disadvantage. Here Schulz may learn from Donald Trump except that Schulz is a convinced European and a democrat. As a former mayor he knows how to speak to the people in simple terms, i.e., in a sort of democratic populism and he can do it is six languages. A dropout in high school and following an apprenticeship as a bookseller he started his own bookshop at Würselen. From then on he read all the books on his shelves.

Schulz MEGA (©Facebook)
For the time being little is known about the future program of the SPD but why not return to the roots of social democracy? While the economy on its way to total globalization continues to wrest power from governments, politicians, and parliaments Martin Schulz will fight for more social justice. And do not forget; Schulz MEGA (Make Europe great again).

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