The media interest is great, and so is that of the guests: the two SPD district chairmen stefan sauerteig (coburg city association) and carsten hollen (district SPD) registered over 70 registrations in advance, and television crews had also announced their intention to attend. Simone lange, the woman who wants to replace andrea nahles as chairwoman of the SPD, makes her only appearance in bavaria this friday evening, at the gasthof sauerteig in rodental.
On sunday, the party congress will take place in wiesbaden, where – if the party board has its way – andrea nahles will be elected SPD chairwoman. Simone lange declared her candidacy in february out of protest, as she recounted in her one-hour speech: because nahles, not yet a member of the party executive committee, was to become acting chairwoman at that time, even though that is not possible under the party statutes. "If we don’t take our statutes seriously, how can others take us seriously??" Simone lange asks the attentive and mumbling audience in the packed hall.
An alternative to andrea nahles – that’s also what michael busch wants. "I don’t want a ‘pippi-longstocking-on-her-face’ chairwoman – and neither do many other members", says the district administrator and state parliament candidate. Of course it’s normal for the incumbent board to propose a candidate, busch stresses. But internal party democracy includes the possibility of an opposing candidacy, and he is glad that simone lange is taking on this undertaking. "Ware i was 15 years young, i had organized myself what simone lange is doing now." So he just directed them to upper franconia, got the last possible appointment. Still in the late evening, simone lange continues her journey from rodental to frankfurt.
"When I’m national chairwoman", this sentence comes up several times when she talks about the need for the SPD to renew itself, to find a program again that will convince voters. In dark blue pantsuit and white sneakers, she speaks freely and with concentration. Her theme is the party, which needs to regain credibility. 18 percent of the vote is not a good perspective, and simone lange, a police officer for 15 years, diagnoses fear in her party of further slippage.
She wants to fight this fear, she says. Members should not only be consulted on the rough coalition and all other possible questions, but also on the question of who should take over the chairmanship, she demands and earns loud applause. The party members had to "define goals," says. "Time for justice, the slogan with which the SPD entered the 2017 election campaign with martin schulz "is not a goal, but a state that I can achieve if I define and implement the right goals!" She received more than 50 requests for appearances after her candidacy, 20 of which she accepted, she said. For them, it’s tests whether they meet the mood in the party.
Apparently already. "You are the personified hope bearer", says michael busch after her speech. The votes of the upper franconian guests who came to the sauerteig inn on that friday evening were probably secure. But of the listeners, only three were delegated to the party conference: the two district chairmen carsten hollein and stefan sauerteig, and jonas merzbacher, mayor of gundelsheim in the district of bamberg. He declares even before the evening begins that he will vote for simone lange, stefan sauerteig and carsten hollein do so afterwards.
She had the support of her base: "you are the better solution for a renewal of the SPD, says gerhard leerfeld, longtime party member and chairman in untersiemau. Michael busch recalls his own first county council campaign: "you don’t stand a chance. Use it."