The modernisation of German social democracy
Towards a third way and back?
in In search of social democracy

This chapter explores the latest debate about what the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) stands for. A new 'third way' social democracy needed to transcend the old ways if the centre-left wanted to survive. As the Bundestag elections drew nearer, the rhetoric of the debate developed towards the rebranding of the SPD as the party of the Neue Mitte, the new centre, in an attempt to emulate New Labour's success in attracting the median voter. Gerhard Schroder's second term in office proved particularly influential for the programme debate. The government's most important reform project was Agenda 2010 for the 'sustainable protection of the welfare state, for more jobs and strengthening of the German economy'. Agenda 2010 attempted to integrate the coalition's policy initiatives since 1998 into a cohesive narrative of modernisation. In early 2007, the SPD published a draft programme as the basis of debate for the new Hamburg Programme.

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In search of social democracy

Responses to crisis and modernisation


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