Today I have been running in and out of meetings in Brussels all day, so I’ll have to make these blog posts quick and off-the-cuff. In discussing the election of Barack Obama with some colleagues here, it again occurred to me that many European elections may be powerfully affected – especially those whose central platform had been one of anti-Americanism and confrontation with the Bush White House. Case in point, I think that Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) is going be a much bigger loser than John McCain in their upcoming elections.
On Oct. 18, the party confirmed that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier would head up their ticket to take on Chancellor Angela Merkel, but in the preceding weeks various SPD talking heads were rallying the base on the global economic crisis, heaping the blame squarely on the evil yankees.Now Steinmeier is scrambling to change the party position, hailing the president-elect and calling for closer ties (he doubt recalls the thousands of Germans who came out to rally in support of Obama). This change of tune may also have an impact on the SPD’s plans to create a closer alliance with Moscow while de-emphasizing ties with Washington.Like United Russia, the SPD is a political organization that finds itself in constant doubt of its own legitimacy, and despite its past ideals and impressive accomplishments, one can’t help but sense its identity today is overly reliant on who they are against, rather than what they stand for. The election of Barack Obama makes this significantly more difficult.