Nancy Faeser’s difficult election campaign – politics

The Hesse summit of the SPD traditionally takes place in Friedewald, just before the border with Thuringia. A former general secretary was looking for a place where there was otherwise little going on. This year, however, 30 journalists and cameramen are sitting in the knight’s hall of the castle hotel, several have registered late last week, and instead of 90 members, as usual, 190 have come, which is why not only the hotel in town is fully booked, but also that in the neighboring town.

But why at all?

Yesterday, Thursday, it was made public what was supposed to be public this evening: Nancy Faeser will stand as the SPD’s top candidate in the state elections on October 8, during the election campaign she will remain Minister of the Interior in Berlin, and after that she will only be return to Wiesbaden if she can become Prime Minister. And so perhaps the most exciting question is how this dual role is supposed to work.

“Hessen is home for me,” said Nancy Faeser after the party committees had elected her. “Coming here is a matter of the heart for me”. The fact that she is applying for an office is a “democratic matter of course”, just as it is a matter of course for others. Isn’t Boris Rhein Prime Minister and top candidate at the same time? Incidentally, she agreed with him that there was still no time for an election campaign. The Interior Ministry does not neglect them.

The Greens accuse her of dancing at two weddings

There are expected responses to criticism that is expected to come from the federal and state governments. She “dances at two weddings” (Hessian Greens), she has “already bought the return ticket” (Hessian FDP). “People will of course be very careful that the office is not misused for election campaign purposes,” said the Secretary General of the Hessian CDU, and that he was happy to be able to welcome Faeser “occasionally” at home.

But isn’t there something to it, despite all the mockery?

Nancy Faeser is from near Frankfurt, where she still lives. At the age of 18 she joined the SPD, at 33 she entered the state parliament, and if the SPD had won the state election in 2008, the lawyer should have become Minister of Justice. Instead, she became opposition leader, a role she did so well that she garnered respect from the CDU and the left alike. Nancy Faeser, said party leader Janine Wissler at the time, was a “committed campaigner in the fight against right-wing violence and threats” such as “NSU 2.0”. In 2021, Faeser moved to the Ministry of the Interior in Berlin.

How engaged will the grassroots put up posters?

As the top candidate in Wiesbaden, the 52-year-old has the advantage that she not only knows the state parliament, but also her opponents, Prime Minister Boris Rhein for the CDU and his deputy Tarek Al-Wazir for the Greens. Both have expected a lot from their respective base, so that the coalition held. In 2021, for example, the parties voted together against the disclosure of the NSU files.

On the other hand: It will also be a demanding election campaign for the SPD. After 25 years in the opposition, the comrades want to move back into the state chancellery, but are running with a top candidate who won’t be able to campaign for herself too often in Wiesbaden. Even in the last few weeks before the election, Faeser said on Friday, the country always comes first. In Hesse, it will depend on the base, on all the district administrators and mayors, on the members in Karben, Kassel, Kirchheim. How committed are they to hanging posters? How closed do they ring the doorbell?

In the Schlosshotel in Friedewald, the members know that state elections are personal elections, that it is about who people trust to lead them for five years. They will have to campaign for this trust on their behalf, will have to be there when Nancy Faeser can’t be there. How did a comrade say? “This will be work.” He means not only the election campaign, but also the starting position. In the Hessen trend last October, the SPD came to 22 percent, about as much as it currently has in the federal government. In Hesse, however, it is five percent behind the CDU and on par with the Greens. “We really hope that people will get tired of black and green, and we have a great candidate in Nancy,” says the comrade. That makes the job easier.

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