Analysis: Esken has arrived as the SPD party leader

To analyse

Status: 04.11.2021 6:57 p.m.

Do you speculate on the ministerial office or the SPD leader? Saskia Esken has chosen the party chair and wants to run again. Should Scholz become chancellor, she would become an important mediator.

By Evi Seibert, ARD capital studio

There are more unpleasant decisions than the question: Do I prefer to be party leader or a minister? But Saskia Esken certainly didn’t make it easy for herself either. A ministerial position would have been a new challenge, a high level of prestige – but also a risk.

Evi Seibert
ARD capital studio

At the moment when Esken announced that she would no longer run for the SPD chairmanship, she should have trusted Olaf Scholz completely. He would then have had to ensure that she actually got a ministerial office in the end.

But nobody can say with certainty whether Scholz actually wants that. In addition, it is not Olaf Scholz alone who can ultimately decide freely about ministerial posts. The two future coalition partners will want to have a say. How exactly the ministerial posts will be tailored and distributed has not yet been decided.

Esken as a mediator between Scholz and the party

As a party leader, however, Esken has meanwhile arrived. She knows how the Willy Brandt House works, she fought for the positions of the SPD in coalition rounds with Chancellor Merkel – and has also earned respect in the process. Not everyone loves and appreciates them. But those who they value in the SPD must also be involved – namely Jusos and party leftists.

So it’s exactly those who weren’t necessarily fans of Olaf Scholz and didn’t want him as party leader at the time. If Scholz were to become Federal Chancellor, it would actually be helpful for him if Esken were to act as an intermediary between the government and the party. It is questionable whether she herself sees her role in this way – or whether she will rather hold up the SPD flag and criticize it if the SPD chancellor does not behave in accordance with the SPD.

Klingbeil soon in the management duo?

Esken and Scholz have learned to get along with each other. Just like Lars Klingbeil, the current Secretary General, who might be the new man at your side at the top of the SPD. Esken and Klingbeil spent many hours together in the SPD party headquarters in the Willy Brandt House. Together they pacified the party and won the election campaign. Klingbeil further ahead – and Esken deliberately in the background.

The previous management duo of Esken and Norbert Walter Borjans was seen by many as a transition duo from the outset. Part of this duo is actually going now. Esken wants to stay.

Saskia Esken wants to stay party leader

Evi Seibert, ARD Berlin, November 4, 2021 6:23 p.m.

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