Life In Berlin: Voices from SPD Stammtisch in Neukölln

Apr 13, 2017

"Ich bin 66 Jahre alt, ich bin Urberliner und Stammwähler der SPD."

This is Rene Kall, 66 years old, born and bred in Berlin, a loyal SPD voter. Kall is a regular at the "Fritz & Friends" Stammtisch - an informal get together - in Neukölln, hosted by Social Democrat Fritz Felgentreu, member of the German Bundestag. Every other month, Felgentreu invites residents of the neighborhood to discuss their concerns over a beer or two. This Thursday evening he also welcomes some new faces.

Fritz Felgentreu, Social Democrat and member of the German Bundestag.
Credit Wilfried Winzer

Fritz Felgentreu says, "They said they had been thinking about it for some time and when Martin Schulz became the candidate that's when they decided to actually go ahead with joining the SPD."

Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz works like a magnet for Germany's centre-left Social Democrats, also in Neukölln. 50 year old Gabriela Weidemann is one of the new members at the "Stammtisch"

Weidemann says the election of Trump motivated her to engage in a political party, because the recent turn to populism in the world is rather threatening. She feels everyone has the responsibility to show their true colors.

I ask Weidemann what she likes about Martin Schulz.

She describes Martin Schulz as a leader. She also says that the SPD is well prepared for the election campaign, and she wants to be an active part of this. Weidemann also appreciated Martin Schulz in his previous role as the president of the European Parliament.

Across from her sits Wolfgang Hecht, SPD member since 1974.

Hecht says, in a short period of time a lot of new members have registered and that's a nice experience which has given an additional push to the party. He became a SPD member because of Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik.

Hecht sees a similar challenge today. It's about the relations and understanding between nations, it's about Europe. When Brandt was chancellor he eased the relations between the East and the West. Hecht thinks Schulz is the right man for today's challenges.

A strong Europe is also important to Jan Souverein. It's his first time at the Stammtisch in Neukölln. Another topic close to his heart...

"...equal opportunities, so insuring, irrespective of your parents background you have the chance to achieve whatever you want to."

Souverein tells me, he lives a in an academic bubble, something he wants to change by becoming an active member in the SPD.

Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz has mobilized new SPD members across Germany, although the inital hype might be over.

"The sobering result of the Saar election gets us back to normal and gives us more of a serious frame of mind."

Social Democrat Fritz Felgentreu stays positive.