Thomas oppermann suggests that non-party members should also be allowed to participate in a primary election
The spd is currently led by three provisional chairmen. How to choose a new permanent leadership is currently the subject of proposals. A particularly headline-grabbing one was made yesterday by former spd parliamentary group leader thomas oppermann. He told the berliner morgenpost , it was " a courageous step", such "to open decisions also for interested citizens who, for example, register for an election for a contribution of 5 euros". For "from party leaders or candidates for chancellor" it comes "to select people who will not only be popular in the party but also with the people".
In doing so, he alludes (intentionally or unintentionally) to an attempt to resolve a personnel ie with a primary election by spd party members, which turned out to be a mistake in the subsequent bundestag elections: the election of rudolf scharping as party chairman. It showed that already in the 1990s there was a gap between many teachers or otherwise civil servant party members and a majority of the population. A gap that has widened considerably over the past quarter century (cf. Discrepancy between the will of the electorate and the will of the functionaries).
Labour party role model
The idea that primaries open to non-members (as they are in the u.S.) have the potential to narrow this gap was suggested by the british and french social democrats before oppermann. The british labour party made a start in 2015. In 2015, 121.295 britons spent three pounds each to buy a new car alongside 299.755 labour party members and a further 189 unions.703 members of affiliated unions to vote on the new labour leader.
To prevent supporters of opposing parties from using the open primaries to tactically vote for a candidate they believe has the least chance of winning the lower house elections (cf. "Osama, obama and your mama"), the labour party excluded a four-digit number of people willing to vote at the time: among them, tory mp tim loughton, a former liberal democrat mp, and numerous grunts who openly discussed their plan on facebook (cf. Ken loach may not vote for jeremy corbyn).
This open primary, in which voters could express their preferences for candidates by ranking them, was won (to the surprise of many observers) by jeremy corbyn, who is not part of the blairite establishment and does not insist unconditionally on remaining in the eu. With him as leader, labour currently has 26 percent, ahead of a brexit party measured at 23 percent and tories strong at 20 percent.
In the case of the french social democrats, who repeated the british experiment in 2017 with only a one-euro participation fee, the pre-election winner benoît hamon seems to have accelerated rather than stopped the decline.
In view of these very different consequences of open primaries, the spd might ask itself whether there are not other ways to improve the personnel. For example, examinations that prevent politicians from deciding on ies about which they have no knowledge (cf. Primary elections, open primaries or knowledge tests?). The question of whether the participation fee in open primaries can be deducted from taxes as a party donation, on the other hand, could be left to experts in the field.
The field of persons proposed as new chairmen from within the spd now ranges from the controversial young socialist leader kevin kuhnert to the otherwise controversial former berlin senator of finance thilo sarazzin to the federal minister of family affairs franziska giffey (who wants to legally counter accusations of doctoral abbreviations with references to an ominous american citation system). Some of the potential candidates also put themselves into play – among them sigmar gabriel, who has been chairman for some time now.
Martin dulig, who "eastern commissioner" the spd is apparently not completely satisfied with the candidates so far. The saxon state chairman told the daily newspaper die welt, he was "would be pleased if one of our successful oberburgermeisters would accept the challenge":
I can already think of some people in the cities and countries who i think are capable of doing this. They may not yet be known in berlin. But that can be changed. (martin dulig)