The Social Democratic Party (SPD)

The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD - Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) is Germany's oldest political party and its largest in terms of membership. After World War II, under the leadership of Kurt Schumacher, the SPD reestablished itself as an ideological party, representing the interests of the working class and the trade unions. The party's program, which espoused Marxist principles, called for the nationalization of all major industries and state planning.

Today the SPD advocates the modernization of the economy to meet the demands of globalization, but it also stresses the need to address the social needs of workers and society's disadvantaged.

Social Structure

Before World War II, as the main non-revolutionary left-wing party, the Social Democrats fared best among non-Catholic workers as well as intellectuals favoring socially progressive causes and increased economic equality. Led by Kurt Schumacher after the war, the SPD became more centrist in an effort to appeal to a broader range of potential voters. It is however still connected with the economic causes of unionized employees and lower middle-class voters.

Geographic Distribution

Geographically, much of their support nowadays comes from large cities, especially of northern and western Germany. The city cluster of the Ruhr Area, where coal mining and steel production were once mainstays, have in the past provided a significant base for the SPD, and in the state of Bremen, made up of the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven, they have governed without interruption or much of a challenge since 1945. In far southern Germany, the SPD typically has a hard time competing in all but the largest cities. One Munich constituency is currently, and only by a narrow edge, the only SPD-held district in the entire state of Bavaria. Small town and rural support comes especially from traditionally Protestant areas of northern Germany (with notable exceptions such as Western Pomerania, from where conservative Angela Merkel was handily re-elected in 2005) and a number of university towns. A striking example of the general pattern is the traditionally Catholic Emsland, where the Social Democrats are generally not competitive, whereas the Protestant region of East Frisia directly to the north is one of their strongest constituencies. Further south, the SPD also enjoys solid support in northern Hesse (Hans Eichel was mayor of Kassel, then Hesse's minister president, then finance minister in the Schröder administration, Brigitte Zypries serves as Justice Minister), parts of Palatinate (Kurt Beck is currently party leader), the Saarland (political home of one-time candidate for federal chancellor Oskar Lafontaine, who later defected), and southwestern Baden (Marion Caspers-Merk, Gernot Erler).

A History of the SPD - From a Social Democratic Perspective - In English

Berlin Political Personalities Today

1. Gerhard Schröder - A resident of which borough

2. Name or Alias Here - A resident of which borough

3. Name or Alias Here - A resident of which borough

Articles and News Stories

A Berlin Commune Fights Developers
The Köpi in Berlin's Mitte district is a symbol of the city's far-left scene.

The Cold War as Ancient History
An American journalist interviews Berlin high school students.

German Intelligence Service Spies on Berlin Social Forum
Spying was made public by Der Spiegel and confirmed by the Berlin Senate.

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