SPD shark attack loses bite
Published on May 24 2009 | Presseurop
"The Sharks of Finance vote FDP", the controversial SPD election poster.
Seeking to portray itself as a champion of social justice, Germany's Social Democratic party has been running an aggressive campaign for the June elections. In a country wary of sloganeering, its recent posters have provoked heated debate.
An ostensibly simplistic image of a shark in a shirt and tie has caused an outcry in German politics. The poster shows a cartoon shark ready for a day at the office. The caption reads: “The sharks of finance vote FDP.” The Social Democratic Party (SDP) was hoping the slogan targeting the German economic liberal party would boost its campaign for the forthcoming European elections. But it has attracted a storm of criticism not just from the SDP’s potential political allies, but also from an astonished press.
The Germans, who are used to politically correct election campaigns, were amazed to see a major party in government launch such an aggressive attack on its competitors; all the more so because the liberal shark is just one of a series. Two more posters portray a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voter as a ‘coin-headed’ figure in favour of wage dumping, and a ‘hairdryer-headed’ figure, representing Die Linke (The Left) party voters, ready to support the cause of “hot air.”
Today, the daily Die Welt accused the SPD of resorting to Nazi metaphors: “These posters are reminiscent of the vermin metaphors,” extensively used by Joseph Goebbels. “Ever since SPD voters punished their party for the Schröder government reforms, even matter-of-fact politicians have begun to look for scapegoats rather than draw attention to their own merits,” the conservative daily noted. “The fact that this latest campaign fails to live up to the party’s own norms of aesthetics or rhetoric is a reflection of a crisis on the left.” It concluded with the assertion that the SPD had betrayed its heritage: “No one is suggesting that the SPD has a fascist concept of human beings. But we have to ask how such a thing could happen to a political party whose members were imprisoned in camps, and driven to suicide by Nazi propaganda. What can explain this lack of culture and historical ignorance?”In a parallel development that will further embarrass SPD party leaders, Die Welt also reported that the extreme right party NPD in Saxony has claimed it owns the copyright to the electoral campaign against financial sharks. At the same time, the weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported on growing irritation among young liberals, some of whom have chosen to counterattack on the web. One of the posts targeting the SPD on Twitter shows a virtually empty poster and suggests using the slogan, “No one wants to vote SPD,” or “Only an amnesiac could vote SPD.” The graphics for this initiative have yet to be uploaded.