• Germany edition
 
Steinbrück rallies SPD with justice speech
Photo: DPA

Steinbrück rallies SPD with justice speech

Published: 09 Dec 2012 09:53 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Dec 2012 16:13 GMT+01:00

In a speech lasting almost two hours and punctuated with frequent bursts of enthusiastic applause, Steinbrück said: "Freedom, justice, solidarity. . . with a commitment to these values, I am running to be chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany."

"It is time for a change," thundered the 65-year-old former finance minister, rewarded with an almost 10-minute standing ovation from his Social Democratic Party (SPD) supporters in the northern city of Hannover.

SPD delegates were officially nominated him with a vote of just over 93 percent as their candidate for the unenviable task of unseating Merkel, often ranked the world's most powerful woman, at federal elections expected in September.

Steinbrück accused Merkel's party, the conservative CDU, of having no election strategy apart from relying on her and said her political slogans were "stickers on empty bottles" with little substance behind them.

"Mrs Merkel said she is running the best and successful government since reunification (in 1990). I have rarely laughed so much," said Steinbrück to tumultuous applause.

He pledged to put an end to what he said was "an increasing trend toward parallel societies" in Germany, the haves and the have-nots.

While he was forced to acknowledge that Europe's top economy currently had low unemployment rates, he stressed that many of those in work were not being paid fairly and pledged a legal minimum hourly wage of €8.50.

And on the international stage, he vowed to "show his colours and go into the federal election with a clear pro-European stance."

"Europe is more than a common market, it is more than a currency union. . . it is more than a club of 27 European leaders. Europe is civilisation," he said.

He accused Merkel of fostering "isolation" in Europe with her policies against the debt crisis.

German media had seen Steinbrück's speech as a final chance to kick-start his campaign after damaging revelations that he had pocketed some €1.25 million in fees for making speeches at private functions.

Steinbrück himself briefly touched on the issue, saying: "My fees for speeches were rocks in my backpack that you have also had to carry on your shoulders."

And opinion polls point to the scale of the task facing the centre-left SPD's candidate against Merkel, who continues to be Germany's most popular politician.

A poll released by ARD public television ahead of the party conference showed the SPD still languishing some nine points behind Merkel's conservative CDU and CSU sister party from Bavaria.

Germans do not directly elect their chancellor but if they could, 49 percent would plump for Merkel and only 39 percent would vote for Steinbrück in the election, the poll showed, although the gap appears to be narrowing slightly.

Another poll on Sunday, conducted by Emnid for the Bild am Sonntag weekly paper, showed that more than half (52 percent) of Germans did not think he was chancellor material, with 41 percent believing the opposite.

Undaunted, Steinbrück vowed he would not join with Merkel in a so-called "grand coalition" and called on party members to "trust in ourselves and others will trust in us.

"If we stand side-by-side, then we'll get there," he pledged.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

22:25 December 9, 2012 by McM
I wonder what he got paid for this little speech and whether he will he donate it back to the free lunch club in attendance .
Today's headlines
Four Germans on missing Air Algérie flight
A Swiftair flight Photo: EPA/SWIFTAIR / HANDOUT BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE

Four Germans on missing Air Algérie flight

UPDATE: Four Germans were among the 116 people onboard a Air Algérie flight which crashed over Mali on Thursday, according to the airline which operated flight number AH5017. READ  

Munich midwife 'tried to kill pregnant mums'
The hospital in Munich where the midwife worked. Photo: DPA

Munich midwife 'tried to kill pregnant mums'

A midwife in Munich stands accused of trying to murder four pregnant mums during childbirth using a blood-thinning drug. READ  

Top university switches master's to English
Munich's TU university wants to switch its master's programmes to English. Photo: DPA

Top university switches master's to English

UPDATE: One of Germany’s top universities wants to ditch German and switch almost all of its master’s programmes to English in the next six years, prompting fears that the academic standing of the German language is under serious threat. READ  

Death sentence for Afghan reporter murderer
Anja Niedringhaus (r) with colleague Kathy Gannon in 2013. Photo: DPA

Death sentence for Afghan reporter murderer

A former Afghan police commander has been sentenced to death in Kabul for the killing of German war reporter and photographer Anja Niedringhaus in April this year. READ  

ECB blackmailed after data stolen
The ECB building (right) in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

ECB blackmailed after data stolen

The European Central Bank in Frankfurt has received a blackmail letter after its public website was hacked and contact data stolen, the bank said on Thursday. READ  

Manhunt on for police officer's killer
Police searching the area on Thursday morning have released an e-fit of the suspect. Photo: DPA/Polizei Hessen

Manhunt on for police officer's killer

UPDATE: An off-duty police officer was shot dead in a street in western Germany on Wednesday night, prompting a large-scale manhunt for the culprit. READ  

Berlin is Europe's fastest growing tourist city
Photo: DPA

Berlin is Europe's fastest growing tourist city

Berlin is the fastest growing tourist destination among Europe’s major cities, with overnight stays in the capital up eight percent in 2013. It could soon topple Paris as Europe’s number two tourist city. READ  

Lufthansa flight ban is 'surrender to terror'
Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International airport board shows cancelled flights from Europe on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa flight ban is 'surrender to terror'

Politicians criticized German flight operators for "surrendering to terror" after they refused on Thursday to resume flights to Tel Aviv, despite a US decision to lift a two-day flight ban to the Israeli city. READ  

'Auschwitz criminal' dies ahead of US extradition
Photo: DPA

'Auschwitz criminal' dies ahead of US extradition

An 89-year-old American and alleged Nazi war criminal died just hours before a US court approved his extradition to Germany, his lawyer said late on Wednesday. READ  

Robots could take half of jobs in Germany
The employee of the future? Photo: DPA

Robots could take half of jobs in Germany

More than half of the jobs currently being done in Germany could be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, according to a think-tank. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Sport
Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Photo: DPA
National
Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,269
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd