• Germany's news in English

Gabriel urges SPD to avoid lurch to the left

DPA/The Local · 14 Nov 2009, 13:21

Published: 14 Nov 2009 13:21 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Addressing the Social Democratic Party (SPD) conference in Dresden, Gabriel demanded his party open itself up to the voters and thereby take up the fight for middle ground.

Interrupted repeatedly by applause during his marathon 102-minute speech, Gabriel acknowledged that the SPD had made decisions, particularly in the area of welfare cuts, during its 11 years in government that had angered its supporters.

But he added: “The SPD cannot and must not disown its time in government.”

Many on the left wing of the party are demanding that the SPD renounce some of its Agenda 2010 reforms, such as cuts to unemployment benefits and a hike in the retirement age.

Gabriel, who was previously environment minister in the “grand coalition” government, was elected unopposed as party chairman, with 94.2 percent of the vote from delegates.

“The (conservative) CDU/CSU and the FDP can only ensure their majority if they pretend that the ‘left’ and the ‘middle’ are mutually exclusive and if they pretend that they belong to the middle,” he said.

“Instead of changing the middle, we have change ourselves,” he added.

Andrea Nahles, the de facto leader of the party’s left wing, was elected, also unopposed, as general secretary, though with just 69.6 percent of the vote.

Nahles vowed a fresh start for the party, which managed to garner just 23 percent of the vote in the September federal election, down 11 percent from 2005.

“Here and now we begin anew,” Nahles said. She said the SPD needed more passion and added that, in herself and Gabriel, it had this passion “in double”.

Story continues below…

Keen to project the idea of generational change, Nahles said the party had had “enough testosterone” in the past few years.

On Saturday, former SPD candidate for chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is now head of its parliamentary group, vowed to lead a vigorous and combative opposition.

"We must give (centre-right government) no peace," he said. "We must fight these policies."

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Eurowings union threatens cabin crew strike for Thursday
Photo: DPA.

A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will start as of Thursday if ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd