Germany’s shakespeare party: contradiction and malice

At the presentation of the new candidate for chancellor, Thomas Oppermann found clear words for Sigmar Gabriel – on the open stage.

Only a supporting role, but he fills it loudly and conspicuously: Thomas Oppermann (right) Photo: dpa

He has only a supporting role in the current intrigue of Germany’s Shakespearean party. But SPD parliamentary group leader Thomas Oppermann fills it loudly and conspicuously. Thus, in this memorable SPD week, memorable scenes occurred during the presentation of the new candidate for chancellor, Martin Schulz.

The SPD caucus meeting was about who should speak first: the still incumbent party leader Sigmar Gabriel or, as Oppermann suggested, Schulz. The two engaged in a dialogue about this in front of running cameras. Gabriel: "I’m still the chairman of the party!" Oppermann: "And I’m the chairman of the parliamentary group!" Gabriel: "Well, I’ll be going now."

Gabriel then stayed and spoke first. Oppermann gave in, but probably for the last time. After the meeting, he explained without being asked how he saw the future role of Gabriel, with whom he had already fought for posts 20 years ago in Lower Saxony: "He will play a serving role in the election campaign."

Contradiction on the open stage, gloating afterwards: politicians rarely show so clearly how to react to a change of power at lightning speed. From now on, everything revolves around the new sun, Schulz.

And Oppermann? Party leaders come and go, candidates too, but the 62-year-old is never mentioned, and apparently no one tells him when the top personnel changes. As a result, Oppermann was still publicly praising the qualities of presumptive candidate Gabriel on the weekend – and a little later suddenly had to rave about the new beacon of hope, Schulz.

Oppermann, who once recommended himself for higher tasks with the hard-to-tolerate defense of Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the Kurnaz investigation committee, thus continues to have above all – a serving role.

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