tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV January 28, 2017 2:00pm-2:31pm PST
hello and welcome to "quadriga." can germany's social democrats beat populist politicians at their own game? the new man at the party's helm says yes. the spd decided this week to hand over its top post to martin scholz, who spent most of his career in the e.u. parliament. as party leader and candidate for chancellor, he wants to give the social democrats a new face as the champion of the ordinary man and woman. he's thrown down the gauntlet to
populists as well as germany's popular chancellor. candidate schulz. can merkel be beaten? that is the question we want to pose to three people who follow politics in germany. it is a pleasure to welcome ulrike guerot. she is the founder and director of the think tank, european democracy lab, and she says populism claims to united nations, but actually divides them. it is great to have derek scally with us on the show once again, the germany correspondent for the "irish times." his statement, the spd and martin schulz have to decide what they want to the. is with usosener once again. he's a political commentator for "die welt" and he says martin schulz has spent his entire political life in brussels. he has no idea how germany functions.
he will lead the spd into oblivion. i would like to ask all three of you. this news came as a big surprise to many people in germany and outside germany as well. what do you see as the impact on a country that many people around the world view as one of the last guarantors of european and perhaps international stability. derek scally? derek: not only is germany one of these lasast guarantors, for the spd, this is one of their last chances. they've been in an identity crisis for 15 years. the euphoria toward martin schulz is partly desperation. this has to be the man. if this isn't the savior, this party is doomed. melinda: ulrike guerot, how do you see it? ulrike: i think it is not only a crisis of the german spd, it is basically a pan-european social democratic crisis.
we see the same thing in francn, implosion of the left all over the place. in france is ang little bit what is happening in germany, the desperate look for new faces who will be able to save european social democracy and bring back one of the oldest political traditions in europe. we see macron and now mr. shultz for germany. it is fresh faces to counter the feeling that this social democracy is basically dying. melinda: alan posener, germany is doing pretty well economically, yet there is a high level of mistrust in politics, political institutions, and politicians themselves. why is that, and can martin schulz fix it? germany has been ruled off and on for the past 12 years by a so-called grand coalition of social democrats and christian democrats. there's never been a coherent opposition.
it has always been the question of, who wants to get into bed with mrs. merkel next? oftin schulz is the academy exactly this way of thinking. in this timing european parliament, he's had an informal grand coalition with the christian democrats too. he's not a fresh face. he's an old hand at wheeling and dealing. why there should be any of this euphoria, quite frankly beats me. melinda: we want to delve deeper into that question. because he is a somewhat unknown face for many of our viewers, let us take a closer look at who martin schulz is and a bit about his career. schulz can be friendly will go on the attack when he has to. and he works hard. a former bookseller or made it to the top of the european
political structure, schulz served in the european parliament for more than 20 years and then became its president. in 2003, schulz had a run-in with italian prime minister berlusconi. >> mr. schulz, in italy right now they are shooting a film about a nazi concentration camp. you would make a great camp guard. >> schulz is not afraid to stand up for his principles. members he angered some are talking about the rights of palestinians. two years later, he upset china by meeting the dalai lama. but does martin schulz have what it takes to beat angela merkel? melinda: we heard alan posener say this is just more of the same, but in fact martin schulz is known for speaking his mind, for being direct.
he's very popular in germany. many people see him as perhaps more authentic than the former party leader. what do you think, derek scally? is he the right man to bring back the spd at a time of widespread disillusion? derek: what i've been surprprisd at this weweek is my friendsds n brussels are, the charm of martin schulz has always eluded them, but many of my younger german friends are very enthusiastic about it. that surprprises me. it gives me hope that this party cacan actually be e brought back from the brink. 20% in polls, if it drops below that, it will cease to be a force in politics. martin schulz is a great talker. he's permanently on german television. i can think of no other european politician who has made e the europeanan union so tangible. i'm not sure whether he's somebody people like to have
around like a left-wing newspaper in a right-wing voting household, or whether people want to hold him and vote for him. he's still a bit of a puzzle to people.. he's going to give a speech and then people can start to make up their minds about whether he's the man. , you knowlrike guerot him pretty well, having been in brussels for many years. what do you think? is he really somebody who can do things differently and bring the spd back from their astonishing shrinking mode? ulrike: i wouldn't say that i know him very well, but sure. first i would agree with derek scally that there is a youth movement which is clearly more behind him, because gabriel was flawed, the former party leader, on basic sociaial democratic positions. the young movement didn't see
gabriel l representing what they wanted. what they want is an open, liberal europe. that is pretty much what martin schulz stands for. i think you said it. he is in a way pretty authentic and not sort of mainstreaming. if we see today that the emotions are left to the populace, then you can say to martin schulz that he is close to the people, which is what we all want now, that he can talk emotions, that he can rock a tent full of people. that may be to his advantage. we will need to see. i think the dividing line is whether he will come across as sort of the european man or whether he will make the point that the very fact that he has not european ambition is good for the country. that bridge might be difficult to create. melinda: alan posener, you say he has no idea what germany is
really about. this is a very ununusual move, somebody who went from being mayor of a small town to 20 years in brussels, and then comes back into national politics. this is the year of the outsider. could this be an advantage for him? the media, they are giving him tons of coverage. he's a lot more interesting than the faces we've all known for so long. alan: how can you say that when derek just said we've been seeing him on the tv almost all the time? i heard this yesterday from the greens, this is the year of the outsider, look at trump. it is not about trump. it is about trump's message, the economic nationalism, america first. i'm sure that someone from a mainstream party, if he hijacked the cdu and did that, would garner lots of votes.
to come and say we want a more social europe, that is not going to get people off their backsides in germany. they're going to ask, who is going to pay for it. the answer is, you are going to pay for it. briefly let us listen to what he has had to say himself. he's been saying this is going to be an election like no other. he sees democracy is under threat in many countries. >> there are deep divisions in society, in germany and other european countries. european society is driftiting apart. after the election in the u.s., one can say that societies around the world are drifting apart. many people feel insecure, but we must work to keep these societies from drifting apart. derek scally, known for being authentic, known for being
direct, he says that he wants to heal those divisions by really listening to the ordinary man and woman. can he really deliver on that? he has eight months. he's been parachuted in. befofore he started tatalking at drove society, his pararty through some very painful reforms. people credit it with germany's prosperity today, but this party has never taken ownership of this. they are very divided about this. he loves to take hatchets and hack away atat each other. he has to come in n and somehow impose authority from above, a maman who has never led ththe p. ii doubt very much -- he has maybe two or three months to get the party behind him and then he can start giving speeches when the daffodils come out.
i'm doubtful that he can bring this party behind him. the making of ththparty or t the breakingng of the pararty, thats where the partrty is at 20%. why would you vote for a party that isn't sure what it is itself? or can to give the party a new brand. he's got eight months and that is a very short time. melinda: alan posener, pretty much every politician says these days that he or she needs to get out of the bubble and really listen to the voters. angela merkel held a series of town halls last year in different regions of germany. do you really think that martin schulz can convince people he's listening to them better than others? alan: no. it starts with this crazy statement that there's a deep divide in society. germany is prospering. we don't have a deep economic
divide. we have less unemployment than we've had for years. the middle class is prospering. germany is exporting thanks to the cheap euro. it is absolutely stupid to now say, i'm going to go for the class struggle. yeah, there may be 15% to 20% who feel they are the underdogs. they are not going to vote spd. they've got the left party to vote for, or the populist. our idea that somehow society is broken is wrong. what you need to say is, we fixed that 12 years ago. we are not broken. we are a mododern society. that is not his message. his message is, our society is deeply divided. derek: the donald trump message
was, let's make america great again. america is apparently great. donald trump played on the message that people perceive things to be unfair. if you see people pulling into bins to get five or $.10 -- ulrike: we have data out there that use wealth is decreasing, that we have poor people, sococl disruption growing in germany, so on, so forth. melinda: the measure of inequality. ulrike: the facact that we have exports and growth in germany does not mean the redistribution comes behind. there is division in society. mr. schulz is right when he says we have democracy at threat not only in germany, but beyond germany. the split of societies abroad is a german problem and the germany as an island sort of thing is not going to work. melinda: german democracy under
threat in europe in just a moment. a follow-up question to you, ulrike guerot. to the degree that there are divisions in germany, are they really about economics, and is that since of insecurity about economics, or is it a split that is developing in regard to the chancellors open-door policy for refugees and in regard to a sense that people want national protection again, and if it is the latter, is martin schulz, coming from brussels, really the man to address that kind of divide? ulrike: i think it is austerity and social division and refufugees. society which is basically healthy and not divided in economic terms is more ready to welcome refugees than a society which is not. what we had is that the refugee crisis came on top of a social strain which was already there.
the way that we got with this refugee policy could only boost up to such a degree. the social fracture was already in the country before. the two are linked. how do we get out of this? is the national security discourse related with the social question? i think that schulz will need to cope with both, to make clear that the refugees will not come at threat of further social divisions. i think that is what the spd is taking as a party line, that we need to fix the social question in this country. alan: i hate to be sort of defender of the status quo, but we have a minimum wage for the first time in german history. a minimum wage for everybody. we have an increasing old
people's pensions. a huge increase. numbers, lowd numbers of unemployment. ulrike: but very lousy jobs. alan: if german jobs are lousy, what are americans and brits going to think? we have a system of education which gives young people that are -- better chances than anywhere in the world. if you come on and say this society is fractured, not working for people, what society is? --eally think the point is this is priceless because german society does work for the german people -- when it comes to europe, obviously we're going to have to pay up. obviously we're going to have to pay money. ulrike: but there's no free lunch. alan: the point is that germany is fractured along lines of
-- not a not lines long social lines. it is not poor people who are against immigrants. look at the alternative for germany, they are not poor people. they are not the people you see rummaging in bins. they are middle-class people -- ulrike: middle-class people are fearful to go down in the social scheme. melinda: why would they fear to go down? who is threatening them? no one. melinda: let us take a closer look at the afd, the right-wing party here in germany. we've talked about the threat of populism. it is definitely something on martin schulz's mind. let's look at the rise of populism in germany and elsewhere. >> attacks on n islam and immigrants have made him popular. his party is on course to win the next election. >> yesterday, a new america.
tomorrow, a new europe. marine le pen has softed her party's image since she becameme leader in 2011. her supporters believe she can become france's next president. >> in 2016, the anglo-saxon world look up. i'm convinced that 2017 will see an awakening among the nations of continental europe. afd party is tryingng to appeal to conservatives and right-wing extremists. they want to win seats in the bundestag. >> with got to unmask those who go around shouting, europe and more europe. they are actually anti-european and anti-democratic. >> who can stand up to these right-wing populists? melinda: derek scally, the other
guests just weighed in quite vocally on what they think is driving divisions here in germany and elsewhere, whether it is more of a social and economic, or a nationalist issue. how do you see it, and do you think martin schulz is the man to staunch the bleeding from the social democratic party? it has seen voters leaving from the left to move toward the rightt, this alternative for germany. derek: it is like 100 years ago when the far right started pulling left because they said, we are a better r representation of your interest.t. martin schulz, on his last interview before he left brussels, he said, i want to finally make clear to people that it is dangerous to come to brussels and then go home and say some invisible force put pressure on me to agree to something. he will be trying to call out this lie at the heart of
politics in europe that somehow the european union imposes things on nationstates. afd gets away with it because brussels has become this bogeyman. no martin schulz is a national politician. will he be able to claim that europe is a good thing will fall into the trap that all these politicians have in the past? he has to tackle one thing that is rising in germany. i call it prosperity chauvinism. people are comfortable, but they field somebody is about to take something from them. that is the fear. how he can confront people with their own bigotry, i don't know. melinda: ulrike guerot your opening statement talked about populism as a threat. to what degree is it a threat in germany? isn't there pretty much a cap on the rise of the afd? people say it is not going to 12% toh beyond maximimum 15% in the upcoming election.
ulrike: germany is better off than many countries in the european union. we have a bad experience in history, so we are more aware that there's a real danger. we have a very strong civil society. if you compare the level of foundations, the level of institutions, germany is far better off than other companies -- countries in the european union. you may argue it doesn't but the system at high risk. nevertheless, there is an incremental thing here which is, it will not move away. it will not go down to 3% or 2%. the impact on coalition is still there. my entry statement was more about, we always t talk nationalization. my thesis is the opposite is happening. this populism, which comes
across as nationalism, it is basically splitting the nations. integration of mr. trump and half of the other side of americans in the street, and the march of women in washington. theresa may wanted to defend the british identity and brexixit is splitting the country. we see poland, the peace party, the new populist government, with half of the folks being in the street. basically my argument is that if we pretend nationalism is closing the national spin of a nation, populism is actually cutting nations into two, and that is a very dangerous thing for party systems because it aligns citizens against citizens. melinda: we've been talking for most of this program as if german politics were basically personality contests. in fact, they are not about parties.
they are about potential coalitions. alan posener, you sounded skeptical about martin schulz's prospects of bringing back the spd and pretty sanguine about the state of german politics and the grand coalition. are you really so optimistic when you hear, for example, the notion of a prosperity chauvinism? do you think four more years of a grand coalition is what germany needs? alan: i don't think it is what germany needs, but it is what germany's going to get. instead of talking about other possibilities, you just have to say, what can we expect? if we have another grand coalition, then the right-wing opposition will be the afd. they will gain by that. they will be able to entrench themselves, and sooner or later they have to be included in a coalition if there's ever to be a change of policy back towards
the kind of swing we want. i'm not sanguine. i'm just saying that given the numbers, and given that mr. schulz is not going to rejuvenate the spd, the only question we are facing is, will mrs. merkel go with the greens with a grand coalition? melinda: the other two, you've been more sanguine about the prospects of mr. schulz. could he bring back a left-leaning coalition? ulrike: i think the situation is more open than we think. derek: i think next time around. not this time. melinda: thank you to all of you for being with us today. thank you for tuning in. great to have you with us. see you soon.
michelle: hello, and welcome to the first "focus on europe" for the new year. i'm michelle henery. unfortunately, here in europe, 2017 begins much as the last year ended, blighted by acts of terror. many of the attackers are young men, some who were impressionable and vulnerable to being radicalized. in germany, a group called the salafists which adheres to a strict, traditional interpretation of the koran, were knownwn for distribibutinge islamic c religious text in pedestrian areas. they said they wanted to spread their religion. but many only wanted to recruit