An interesting article by Hans Kundnani, featured in ‘The Guardian’ Newspaper, Sunday 26 February 2017 suggests that Martin Schulz's popularity is not so much about a liking for the chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), but rather of a feeling of being fed-up with long-time chancellor, Angela Merkel.
“The excitement around the candidacy of Schulz is something of a puzzle – he is hardly a charismatic or visionary figure. Some think of him, though, as “populist of the centre” because of the way he presents himself as a man of the people. He does have a compelling biography: he dropped out of high school, hoped to become a professional football player and struggled with alcoholism. But the most plausible explanation for his sudden popularity is that it reflects pent-up demand for a real alternative to Merkel, who many Germans are fed up with after more than a decade in power.” (Hans Kundnani )
In a recent campaign speech Schulz criticised the increase in income inequality and the growth of insecure and badly paid jobs in Germany, which he blamed on a “neoliberal mainstream” that had declared workers’ rights and social welfare to be “obstacles to growth”. This left-wing rhetoric came as a surprise. “Schulz was not generally seen as one of the more left-wing figures in the party,” says Sebastian Dullien, a Berlin-based economist.