The election of the new SPD Hannover board reveals structural problems – an overview of Lower Saxony

Stephen Crack and Leila Hatami want to replace Claudia Schusler as head of the Social Democratic Party in the Hanover region. | Photo: SPD, montage: Panorama

In the Hanover area, which has a sub-district of SPD with a large number of members, a noticeable personnel change is about to occur. Former President Claudia Schusler, who had already prepared for another term, surprisingly did not appear again. Instead, regional president Stephen Krach, newly elected last fall, is set to take command of the sub-district on April 30 — in other words, exactly the political structure that is a mirror image of the administrative unit he himself heads. . 42-year-old Krach has to share the task with Essenhagner’s regional deputy Leila Hatami (39). After the candidacy was announced, Bild newspaper published the headline: “Stephen Crash ends Zoff in the SPD.”


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Will the clever young head of administration, who many in the SPD still anticipate a great political future, come as the savior of a divided party structure thirsty for renewal? This impression could have emerged in the past few weeks, because local reports spoke of internal conflicts, of two members of the state parliament conflicting with each other, and that there was a “staff dispute” and a “torn image” in the party. There are now indications that this may be the case. But is this really true?

It is also conceivable that the discord was deliberately instigated to weaken an uncomfortable sub-district chief who was committed to her job and not avoiding conflict. It is possible that she stepped on the toes of some comrades – then she became the object of a conspiracy. Schusler himself declined an interview with the political magazine Rundblick. Several other people in the SPD in Hannover give in the background what happened in the past few weeks and contributed to the escalation of development, the end of which is supposed to be Krach’s rise to the new party leader in the sub-district. .

Three difficult years for Claudia Schusler

For three years, Claudia Schusler served as the successor to Matthias Mersch, who had been elected president of the district. Those were not easy times for the SPD in the state capital, because shortly after taking office, Hanover Mayor Stefan Schöstok was accused of infidelity and resigned. After 70 years of SPD dominance, the city council has fallen to the Greens. First, the mayoral campaign had to be organized, and then a few months later the federal and local election campaigns, both of which ended more happily for the party than the struggle for Shostock’s successor.

Two new candidates have come to the fore – city mayor Adis Akhmedovic, who has also been a member of the Bundestag since 2021, and Karac as the new mayor of the region. In general, the balance sheet of the Hanoverian SPD three years later in the fall of 2021 was very successful – and so Scheusler was justified in preparing to continue the business. This has been increasing since the sub-district executive made a consolidated proposal to the party convention (at the time it was still planned for the end of February) in early February 2022. Scheusler must remain at the top, and a personnel panel has been put in place.



But then, in mid-February, Alptekin Kirchy, a member of the state parliament, suddenly announced his demand to serve as a male part of a dual command on the side of Schusler. The ex-president refused – because the mutual agreement in advance stipulated something else, and she herself did not want to go this way. A dual leadership in which the second candidate struggles with the former single leader? This does not look promising. The Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper wrote a few days later about a “bitter struggle for power” in the SPD and that Scheusler himself was “inconsistent” and “very opaque”. There was talk of compromise attempts by district chief Mersch and district chief.

No support from Merch for Schusler?

The fact is that after Kirci’s sudden dig, Schüßler did not receive any support from Miersch, who could have ended the debate with a word of strength. Instead, the SPD postponed the planned caucus by two months, but this apparently did not help settle the internal debate. Observers describe an escalation of excitement within the party over the following days, such that at one point Scheusler pulled the rip rope and declined to advance again. “She obviously stepped on some people’s toes at the party a lot,” says one dedicated party member. Another says: “Some were looking at Schusler as a threat to their position.” Have you become a victim of a bullying campaign targeted by an internal party?

There is some evidence in the internal operations of the SPD that supports this thesis. For months, the SPD internally discussed extensively how employees assigned to the Kurt Schumacher House sub-district should use their resources effectively. Specifically, it was a question of whether the local associations in the surrounding area should be compensated for the fact that the sub-district had long since focused its capabilities on the Hanover City Assembly. Schüßler wanted to end this previously disorganized situation or at least discuss a fairer partition, but her critics saw this as an unacceptable attack on the SPD in the capital.

When it came to filling the position of director of the sub-district, Scheusler faced criticism from members of its board that the initially selected applicant was politically centered in southwest Lower Saxony rather than in Hanover, so his unfettered loyalty was in question. This too was met with resentment. After all, it was Schüßler who opposed the planned delegate reduction by the district executive at the district’s party conference in October—and thus caused the management’s proposal to fail. Some of the gentlemen at the party are said to have resented that as well.

The double role of Steven Crush is explosive

The fact that Stephen Crash should now go to the top alongside Leila Hatami would make sense from a Hanoverian point of view – because the regional chief lives in the state capital, not the surrounding area. The biggest problem seems to be that Krach’s impending upgrade has a taste. Everywhere, county administrators, mayors, and mayors sit on the boards of directors of their local party bodies, often by virtue of their office. Legally, this probably isn’t a problem. But when the district manager or the mayor takes command of the local party organization, i.e. stands at the top, the conflict of roles is programmed.

Is the incumbent now speaking as the head of the party structure – or as the head of the administration? On the one hand, this gives the district director, who has been promoted to the party leadership, the predominance in the formation of opinions within the party, in this case in the SPD. It becomes more dominant than it already is. On the other hand, and this is more worrisome, it has lost a part of impartiality, which every chief administrative officer should naturally strive for. Is Stephen Crash wise to endure this debate?

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