EU elections: Germany’s SPD reappoints Barley as its top candidate
Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) will once again announce Katarina Barley as their lead candidate for the 2024 European Parliament elections on Monday afternoon (25 September), SPD party sources told Euractiv.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), party leaders Saskia Esken and Lars Klingbeil, as well as group leader Rolf Mützenich, will attend Barley’s candidacy unveiling.
Barley, who has a doctorate in European law, was already the party’s frontrunner for 2019 and has been its vice president representing the S&D group since she became an MEP.
“I think you can’t get more Europe than that,” the German-British candidate said of herself at the time.
Before running for the European Parliament, Barley held several ministerial posts in former chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government from 2017, first as Family Minister, then as Labour Minister and finally as Justice Minister.
Her renewed bid for the number one spot on the list is unlikely to be without controversy within the party, with the SPD polling just 15.8% in its first campaign in 2019 – 12% less than five years earlier. The Greens ousted the SPD from second place with 20.5% of the vote, with the centre-right CDU/CSU leading.
“I gave it my all, that’s all I could do,” Barley said at the time, blaming the result in part on an underestimation of the importance of climate change.
Key issues for 2024 elections
This time, the threat of gains by right-wing and populist parties is likely to be a defining issue in the upcoming elections.
Speaking at a meeting of SPD state representatives in Berlin on Saturday, Barley expressed concern about the preservation of democracy and the rule of law in the EU.
The European Parliament must be a counterweight with a progressive majority to the increasingly autocratic governments in Hungary, Poland and Italy, she said.
German far-right party calls EU a ‘failed project’
The German far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has called the EU a “failed project” and called for it to be re-established as a ‘Confederation of European Nations’, the party said in its EU election programme that was adopted on Sunday (6 August).
She cited the example of water quality in the UK, which has fallen dramatically since EU regulations were repealed, and in some places has become toxic.