SPD lose historic place as Germany's biggest political party

28th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Social Democrats have fallen behind their arch rivals the Christian Democrats in the party membership rankings, haemorrhaging over 20,000 in the last year

SPD loses its place as Germany's biggest political party

The German Social Democrats (SPD) were struck another blow Monday when it was revealed that they now have a lower membership than their main rival, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

At 761 more, the CDU's superiority is by no means impressive. Nevertheless the SPD has historically enjoyed a massive working class membership at its base, a demographic which is increasingly drifting to left-of-centre rivals such as the Greens and the resurgent socialist Left party, formed from the ashes of East Germany's Socialist Unity party.

The result is also only a small consolation to the CDU as it itself has lost members, its position being helped only by the catastrophic losses sustained by the SPD.  Focus magazine reported that the SPD had lost 20,000 members in the past year, compared to the CDU's 15,000 decrease.

Johannes Kahrs, spokesperson for the more centrist camp of the SPD, told Focus that the massive exodus from the party was due to dissatisfaction over the unresolved candidature for the chancellorsip, saying  many "are ruffled, because they want to know in which direction the SPD is going."

Peter Loesche, a political scientist, told the Berliner Zeitung, " The old concept of the people's party has been superseded, in the future we will see broader political parties with a very many factions who will work together, the work of functionaries such as party chairmen will sink."

Dominic Hinde

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