29 March 2017

Neither charismatic nor visionary, but very popular since announcing he would run to be chancellor

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.