Tomorrow....folks will start to arrive in Berlin for the big SPD Party Congress. It's held every two years and just about every single big-wig and little-wig of the SPD will show up.....along with a thousand-odd journalists, and probably several hundred honored guests.
What can be said is that it's coming at a critical point. There's three state elections coming up in March (the 11th) and folks are starting to wonder how they can attract votes for this coming election. The general big topic? Well.....immigration, refugees, and asylum-seekers.
This will end by Sunday morning and folks will depart and try to figure out the best way to tell the direction of the party for the next six months. It's not exactly a rocket-science type affair.
There are five basic elements (at least in my mind) over the membership or the voting public of the SPD.
1. There's the familiar working class folks who've been part of the party for decades. They generally always vote SPD without any problem. This immigration thing? Well.....you might find a third of these folks who question Merkel's logic and how this can possible be smart policy for the SPD to anchor themselves onto. Keeping both groups of the working class within the party vote will be hard.
2. The intellectual crowd are fairly tied down to the SPD message and the Merkel strategy over immigration.
3. The journalists crowd are absolutely tied to the immigration policy and see no reason to challenge or change that.
4. The youth vote that swings toward the SPD is fairly stable. The journalists continually hype immigration and have kept the university age youth signed on for the most part.
5. The swing votes which might go SPD, Linke Party or Green Party.....will likely all have a tie-in to the immigration policy and ought to be happy enough with things as they are. If they voted last time for the SPD....they probably will do the same once again.
So, other than worrying about the working class folks being hostile and departing from the usual vote....the SPD might be a great position. The problem is....the Greens and Linke Party have split up the SPD a good bit and they really can't go beyond thirty-to-thirty-five percent of any state's votes. In a really charged up race with a five-star candidate for the national office.....the SPD might be happier than usual. But they just don't have that type of thrilling character who charms the general public.
A change on the immigration episode? I'm of the mind that they will stay the course and find only a handful of things to challenge or change.