Germany, one of the world's leading countries, is still being ruled by a government that lost the latest federal elections, while the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) is constantly declining in power. Although we got upset with then SPD leader and chancellor candidate Martin Schulz's unfortunate anti-Turkey remarks to increase his vote share during the campaign, we are still concerned about the current situation of the SPD since Germany is in need of the party as much as it needs a center-ground party like the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The decline of the SPD over the past years undermines both Germany and the EU. During the years when Gerhard Schröder was SPD leader and chancellor, Germany and the EU experienced a good period in leadership of social democrat politicians with a vision. It was also a positive period in terms of German-Turkish relations. Led by Schröder and Joschka Fischer, the successful SPD-Greens coalition government at the federal level during that period was respected around the world. Schröder's Germany was able to oppose the U.S.'s faulty policies, defend Europe's interests and take a stance against the Iraq war with the support of a large part of continental Europe.
Knowing that the EU should not be a league of Christians, the SPD used to assert that Turkey's accession to the EU would favor the bloc's interests and supported this assertion in practice. During those years, Turkey came closer to EU membership than ever before. They used to know that a social, democratic and strong Germany is only possible through accepting a strong country like Turkey into the bloc. But unfortunately, those years are gone.
After Schröder's term, the SPD remained ineffective in its coalition partnerships with Chancellor Angela Merkel. SPD officials were overshadowed by Merkel, who has had a successful profile, and the chancellor candidates they presented against Merkel failed. The SPD's current situation is alarming. According to the latest polls, the current vote share of the SPD is only 15.5 percent. Even worse, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) overtook the SPD with 16 percent support. Of course, Schulz, who made a name for himself as president of European Parliament and became a chancellor candidate in the latest federal elections as the SPD's hope, has a major role in this present situation. Throughout the entire campaign, he only came to the agenda with his sharp anti-Turkey remarks, which was a serious mistake since far-right and racist groups were already employing anti-Turkey sentiments as part of their propaganda. Although the electorate expected to hear statements about Germany's problems from Schulz, he was making a spectacle with a fugitive who is wanted in Turkey for abetting terrorism. This was a great disappointment for German voters. So, the SPD came to be regarded as a party not capable of heading Germany in a period in which the party was required to instill hope.
On the night of his election defeat, Schulz boldly argued that he would not support a grand coalition, but later took an active role in forming a grand coalition and expressed his wish to become foreign minister, which stirred negative reactions to him, particularly from his party's base. In order to respond to Schulz, the SPD base took a strict stance against the grand coalition. Although SPD officials accepted the new grand coalition after having agreed with the CDU/Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) in the coalition talks, a postal vote by SPD members was organized upon demand of the party base, the result of which will be announced on March 4. On that date, we will see whether the SPD will join the new coalition government.
A total of 463,723 SPD members will determine Germany's future with this postal vote. The vote will also determine the future of the EU. If the result is positive, Germany will eventually have a new government and retake the role it is supposed to play in Europe and the world. A new government in Germany will also favor Turkey's relations with Germany and the EU. In brief, we are all impatiently waiting for the decision from the SPD members. Schulz has resigned from the SPD chairmanship and announced that he will not be a minister so as not to negatively affect the decision of the SPD members, which has been a promising step. Now, at least a portion of the party members will supposedly not vote against the grand coalition only to punish Schulz.
To be honest, we are following Germany with deep concern. In this sense, the decision of 463,723 SPD members interests all of us. We really want the grand coalition to be approved in Germany as soon as possible.
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