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Oskar bangs the drum

The German social democrats are no longer a model for centre-left parties in Europe. Robert Leicht considers whether electoral failure can be blamed on the 1968 generation

By Robert Leicht   January 1996

The gloomy old disciplinarian of the German left could turn out to have been an optimist. “This could last 15 years,” warned Herbert Wehner, the ageing chairman of the SPD parliamentary fraction in 1982, when the social democrats were dispatched into opposition by Helmut Kohl.

If the German social democrats do regain power in 1998, Wehner’s prognosis will have been proved almost exactly right. But few would lay much money on that outcome at present. If anything, the SPD is disappearing deeper into the political wilderness. Its dismal performance in recent local elections and opinion polls seems a fair reflection…

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