• 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
German jobless rate rises in July
Photo: DPA

German jobless rate rises in July

Unemployment in Germany rose in July to 6.6 percent, the Federal Employment Agency said on Thursday, blaming the increase on "seasonal reasons". READ  

Your lottery numbers are 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13
The winning numbers in Wednesday night's lotto. Photo: DPA/Lotto

Your lottery numbers are 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13

Three lucky Germans will take home a six-figure prize after an extremely rare lottery draw. The lucky numbers on Wednesday night were 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 37. READ  

Germany denies 'land for gas' deal with Putin
Merkel with Poroshenko and Putin in June. Photo: DPA

Germany denies 'land for gas' deal with Putin

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been working on a secret peace plan for Ukraine, The Independent newspaper reported on Thursday. The report was later denied by the German government. READ  

Space ship brings special cargo for astronaut
A cargo compartment on the ATV. Photo: ESA

Space ship brings special cargo for astronaut

The last European space freighter blasted off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, carrying a special treat for the station’s German astronaut. The launch of the German-built supply ship marks the end of an era. READ  

World Cup victory makes Germans thirsty
Beer sales abroad and during the World Cup were behind the rise. Photo: DPA

World Cup victory makes Germans thirsty

Germany’s World Cup victory was also good news for the country’s brewers who saw a welcome reversal in the long-term trend of draining beer sales. READ  

Foreigners less likely to get jobs than Germans
A woman walks past a German job centre in Saxony. Photo: DPA

Foreigners less likely to get jobs than Germans

Foreigners from outside the EU suffer from a much lower employment rate in Germany than native citizens and EU immigrants, a study confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper
Markus Rehm. Photo: DPA

German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper

German athletics officials said on Wednesday they would not nominate the country's long jump champion Markus Rehm for the European championships because of fears his prosthetic leg gives him an unfair advantage. READ  

Second man arrested after synagogue attack
The synagogue on Tuesday after the attack. Photo: DPA

Second man arrested after synagogue attack

Police arrested a second suspect on Wednesday in connection with an attempted arson attack in which Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in western Germany. Another man who said he was Palestinian has denied involvement. READ  

German women fall short of equality
Still a man's world: women in Germany find it hard to rise as high as Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: DPA

German women fall short of equality

Women in Germany are still underrepresented in leadership jobs and among professors, a new government report said on Wednesday. They are also paid less and remain unlikely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest

With just over 50 days to go until Munich's Oktoberfest starts, it is time to book your train/plane/horse to the world’s biggest beer festival. Or is it? The Local List looks at five reasons you should be making that trip, and five why you'd better steer clear. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (and five not to)
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
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
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
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
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,244
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd