What policies will SPD candidate Schulz pursue?

After being elected leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) with 100 percent of the vote, Martin Schulz has adopted a critical stance vis-à-vis certain EU member states. "Look at Turkey, look at Hungary, look at Poland", he said, pointing to a dismantling of democracy in these countries. Journalists from Central Eastern Europe refuse to take this sitting down.

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Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Candidate passes over Russia

Central Eastern Europe will be in for hard times if Martin Schulz wins the elections, Mladá fronta dnes fears:

“The rise of people like Schulz can only bolster the Eurosceptics. He made this abundantly clear in his very first speech after his 100-percent election, selecting a couple of countries and declaring them enemies of freedom and democracy. He started with Turkey, which is understandable. But then he continued with Hungary and Poland: two stable Central Eastern European democracies which, admittedly, have conservative governments. In the eyes of 'convinced European' Schulz, that is a deadly sin. Then to round it all off he added the US to his improvised list of bad guys. ... By the way, it's interesting to note that during his long tirade Schulz never said a word about the declared enemies Putin and Russia.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Schulz the perfect enemy for Orbán

Hungarian leader Orbán and SPD chancellor candidate have much in common despite their differences, commentator Albert Gazda points out in Magyar Nemzet:

“Both were elected as leaders of their party with overwhelming support. Both are exceedingly fierce political orators. And both rely heavily on each other when it comes to pointing a finger at the enemy. ... Here in Hungary it is continually being said that Schulz becoming German chancellor would be a catastrophe for the Hungarian government. Nonsense! The way I see it Viktor Orbán couldn't find a better enemy than Schulz and the SPD. That said, just how deleterious an escalation in the conflict between Orbán and Schulz would be for Hungary is another matter altogether.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Passion isn't everything

In contrast to his rival Chancellor Merkel Schulz conveys passion, but this won't necessarily be the decisive factor, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“The woman whom many see as washed-out is competing against the man whom many see as a fresh alternative. But in these turbulent times such labels can change very quickly. … Angela Merkel showed what she is capable of during her meeting with Trump. We also saw how supposed disadvantages can be turned into advantages. In a tricky global context dominated by authoritarian antics Merkel's emotional austerity becomes superior sovereignty. … Merkel came across as the embodiment of constancy next to the erratic US president. The 2017 election campaign will be all about how powerful such images are; whether they can override the rampant weariness with Merkel and whether they are stronger than the fresh wind Schulz is spreading.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Transform euphoria into votes

The German parliamentary elections in autumn are still a long way off, De Standard warns commenting on the current euphoric mood within the SPD:

“Hardly anyone can explain the reasons for all the Schulz hype. No, things were not easy for the SPD in the days of the grand coalition under Chancellor Merkel. The workers' party's achievements, such as retirement at 63, rent control and the minimum wage didn't receive the recognition they deserved and made no impact in the polls. Then along comes Schulz with his talk of 'fairness', acting as if he had nothing whatsoever to do with the social reforms of Gerhard Schröder. He gives an okay inaugural speech - nothing stupendous - and the delegates go completely bananas. After years of suffering, the Social Democrats should enjoy this phase of wellbeing. Anything seems possible now, even the chancellorship. But for that to happen the euphoria must hold out until the election this autumn and translate into concrete votes.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Chancellor must fly her flag

Merkel is not aggressive enough, Le Figaro believes:

“The chancellor is not one of those politicians who 'put all their energy into looking in the Constitution for an excuse to do nothing' when they have their backs to the wall, as the former American president Theodore Roosevelt sarcastically put it. Merkel is like a political fireman. In announcing her candidacy she said she wanted to 'fight, not hate'. Fine, but precisely that is her weak point. Sometimes you have to be willing to engage in a head-on confrontation. A chancellor who is received in Erdoğan's office with two Turkish but no German flags and who passes over such a mark of disdain in silence can be reproached for being too willing to placate. A government must also show its colours and fly its flag high. Where is Merkel's flag?”