Talks between the SPD, Left Party and Greens continue, says Axel Schafer, deputy head of the SPD parliamentary group.
Who sees red with the Left Party? At least not all SPD members yet Photo: dpa
site: Mr. Schafer, you were previously considered a supporter of a red-red-green coalition. Are you still?
Axel Schafer: Yes.
Despite the obviously growing doubts that such an orientation could harm your party in the Bundestag election campaign?
That is always a wave movement, a question of current moods. I have been active in the SPD for 48 years now. I allow myself to think about longer-term orientations.
Does that mean that you’ve already written off the red-red-green coalition for the upcoming federal election?
It doesn’t mean that. One thing is certain: We’re not running a coalition or camp campaign, but an election campaign for a strong SPD. We all agree on that in the party. When the voters have decided on September 24, we will see what is possible. Apart from cooperation with the AfD, we are not ruling out anything. That has been our basic position since our party conference resolution in 2013. All democratic parties are capable of forming coalitions with each other. Whether they are also willing to form a coalition will be seen when the time comes.
64, is vice chairman of the SPD parliamentary group. He is responsible for EU affairs and economic development.
Do you think the Left Party is willing to form a coalition?
In a number of areas, I consider the Left Party to be quite compatible with our positions. At the state level, cooperation with the Left Party usually works well. The interesting question is how far their ability and willingness to compromise extends at the federal level. As a positive thinker, I believe that the willingness is there among a large majority. However, there are those who would rather be in opposition forever. For them, the SPD is the main enemy. There can’t be too many of them, otherwise it won’t work. But we’ll see. You can’t rule anything out beforehand.
Does that mean that you will continue to organize the rounds of talks between the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party? Your colleague in the parliamentary group, Karl Lauterbach, has argued that they should be discontinued for the time being.
That’s not for him to decide. The invitation for the next meeting on April 25 goes out today. Around one hundred members of parliament from all three parliamentary groups will certainly take part again. What I initiated with Fritjof Schmidt from the Greens, Thomas Nord from the Left Party and others last June is a continuous exchange of views. It’s about gaining experience, getting to know each other and making a progress in knowledge. It’s not about making hasty coalition statements.
The mood in society doesn’t seem to be moving in the direction of red-red-green either.
That’s the way it is. We shouldn’t make the world out to be a nicer place than it is.
What does that mean?
First, a sober analysis. There’s this interesting dualism: On the one hand, people demand clear distinction between the parties; on the other, they want as much harmony as possible. This leads to the curious situation that the majority of citizens almost always find a grand coalition more congenial than another constellation. Incidentally, this was no different in 19. Nevertheless, we only managed the important social changes back then with small coalitions. The results of both the social-liberal coalition with Willy Brandt and the red-green coalition with Gerhard Schroder can still be seen today. This should be remembered when thinking about red-red-green.
According to Spiegel, both SPD Chairman Martin Schulz and his predecessor Sigmar Gabriel have made it clear internally that a traffic light coalition is their preferred alliance. What do you think of that?
Within the SPD, there are some who have a preference for a traffic light, others for red-red-green and a third group for the grand coalition. That’s the reflection of a people’s party. The key point is that a change in policy can only be achieved with an SPD chancellor. If the situation after the federal election leaves various options open, we will see with whom we can best realize our own ideas. The factual issues will be decisive, not any color games.
Can you imagine that more social justice can be achieved with the CDU/CSU or the FDP?
Clear answer: No.