Jusos: “Olaf, make something out of it”: SPD youngsters let Scholz do their thing first

A visit to the Juso Federal Congress was rarely pleasant for party leaders and SPD heads of government. Quite different this year: The SPD youngsters receive the upcoming Chancellor Scholz warmly, but also with a lot of self-confidence.

Due to the pandemic, the hall is quite empty on this Saturday due to the pandemic, but the applause is loud and long-lasting: The SPD youngsters gathered at the Juso Federal Congress in Frankfurt am Main prepared a warm-hearted Olaf Scholz, who had long been reviled for sticking to the grand coalition Reception. The Federal Chancellor-designate took a full hour to listen to the praise, criticism and demands of the young socialists.

Despite all the dissatisfaction with individual aspects of the Ampel coalition agreement, the new harmony between the otherwise brisk Jusos and the more conservative Scholz tells a lot about the continued unity of the SPD. Former federal chairmen and members of the government often did not appear at all or only reluctantly at the rebellious youth.

“We see this as an appreciation of our work,” thanks Juso chairwoman Jessica Rosenthal Scholz, who was confirmed in office on Friday, for coming. With 49 MPs, the Jusos make up a quarter of the new SPD parliamentary group. The 29-year-old is one of them. Rosenthal leaves harsher criticism to the delegates and instead asks Scholz whether he has the feeling that the financing of all coalition projects has been secured? Scholz is – unsurprisingly – “confident”. Rosenthal’s reluctance may be due to the nature of the matter: She and her predecessor Kevin Kühnert, who prevented Scholz from becoming party chairman in 2019 and enforced Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, were part of the negotiating team of the SPD in the coalition talks.

Confident, not tamer

On the other hand, the Federal Congress is supported by the self-confidence of the Jusos that the SPD election success was brought about to a large extent by the Young Socialists. Key programmatic concerns such as overcoming Hartz IV and a training place guarantee first made it into the SPD election program and now also into the coalition agreement.

“Our signature is in the coalition agreement,” says Rosenthal nah Scholz ‘appearance on ntv.de and explains: “We are not in this position of power by chance, but because we decided to do it.” With the support of the incoming party chairman, General Secretary Lars Klingbeil, the Jusos had won numerous constituency candidates and places on the list and were successful with many of their female candidates. The trio Esken, Walter-Borjans and Kühnert, which has shaped the party in recent years, was an alliance supported by the Jusos.

Rosenthal does not believe that the Jusos could become tamer under the traffic lights: “Our basic understanding has not changed at all,” said the member of the Bundestag from Bonn to ntv.de. “We only have more funds available and we will use them.” She announced: “We will accompany the government work with critical solidarity and move the vacancies in the coalition agreement further in our direction.”

Conflict over higher standard rates

So Scholz would do well to take the young people who are so strong in Parliament seriously as Federal Chancellor. He promises that he has no intention of “breaking off the conversation and never coming back”. The following speakers give him no reason to do so, because even the harshest criticism is accompanied by praise and thanks for Scholz’s visit.

Simon Witsch from the host Juso Association Hessen Süd describes the traffic light paper as a “relatively good basis” and appeals to Scholz: “So make something out of it!” The Jusos are particularly critical of the new citizens’ allowance, which is intended to replace Hartz IV as a basic security benefit. The speakers are calling for higher standard rates and not the agreed temporary but permanent abolition of sanctions. “Anyone who is not ready to raise the standard rates has no right to speak of overcoming Hartz IV,” says one delegate.

Juso Marco Albers from Hanover thinks the “repatriation offensive“ planned by the traffic light is just shit. ”Great is also the disappointment that the SPD has not enforced any stricter instruments to limit rental prices, such as a rent moratorium, as was still in the election program The speakers accuse Scholz less than Christian Lindern of the fact that a higher top tax rate and a wealth tax failed at the FDP – the new favorite enemy of many Jusos after the unloved union in the federal government has been disempowered.

“Don’t take that too small”

It is important for Scholz to convey the historical significance of the moment to the youngsters: the traffic light could “represent a new social majority” and thus permanently ban the Union to the sidelines. Scholz compares his election after 16 years of Merkel with the election victory of Willy Brandt in 1972, when the SPD became the strongest force in the Bundestag for the first time and thus conquered the “CDU state” – not only the youth are self-confident this Saturday.

In the matter, the acting Federal Minister of Finance encourages the critics: “Don’t take what’s in there too small.” Citizens’ money is about more than just a change of name, the SPD-owned Ministry for Building and Housing can achieve more than what has already been agreed. Scholz also only accepts criticism of the issue of migration to a limited extent and refers to the SPD’s successes in citizenship rights and the planned right of residence for 200,000 to 300,000 people who have hitherto only been tolerated.

A new relationship

Rosenthal said goodbye to Scholz with the words: “We are delighted to be electing you as Chancellor in the Bundestag.” A sentence that the then Juso chairman Kühnert could not have imagined during his “No Groko” campaign in winter 2018. “Something has changed in relation to the situation because the way we are treated has changed,” says Rosenthal to ntv.de. “If we are treated and involved on an equal footing, we are also ready to work constructively.” She describes Scholz’s promise to listen to the Jusos as Federal Chancellor as an “important moment” and announces: “We will measure him by that.”

In terms of content, the Jusos want to keep putting pressure on almost all subject areas. Among other things, the federal congress called for efforts to achieve climate neutrality for Germany as early as 2040 instead of 2045 and to tackle a debt haircut for the municipalities. Further demands: Resolute action against China’s human rights violations, show solidarity with Taiwan, clarify the Afghanistan disaster and ensure housing for all homeless people. In addition, the Jusos want to work out a comprehensive and, above all, redistributive tax reform for 2025.

The first test of how resilient the new relationship between the Jusos and the federal party is, the legislative process for citizens’ money is likely to become. “I’m optimistic about that. Nobody wants the Jusos to feel that they are not represented on this issue,” says Rosenthal. Should she prove to be right, Scholz should also be warmly welcomed by the Jusos next year. Or he is, like other SPD chancellors before him, unable to attend – “unfortunately”.

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