Gerhard Schröder survives move to boot him from Germany’s Social Democrats

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Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder will not be kicked out of the Social Democrats (SPD), despite his business links to Russian energy companies and personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

An internal SPD arbitration committee on Monday rejected a move to expel the controversial ex-chancellor, saying he had “not been guilty of a violation of party rules.”

Seventeen SPD branches had handed in requests to exclude Schröder, arguing that his continuing ties to Russia have caused severe damage to the party. Expulsion proceedings were held in front of party members last month. Schröder himself did not appear and did not send a lawyer. The arbitration committee’s decision can be appealed within two weeks, and the issue could potentially still rise to superior arbitration committees in the SPD.

Prior to the hearing, experts and party members noted that expulsion procedures are legally very difficult as related to the SPD’s statutes.

Schröder has faced strong blowback for his continued ties to Russia, which have included seats on the boards of Russian energy companies. The German parliament in May stripped Schröder of some of his allowances as a former chancellor, including his office space and staff.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, Schröder has met with Putin twice. After his latest trip to Moscow in July, the former chancellor gave a widely criticized interview, where he again called for negotiations with Russia, outraging the Kyiv leadership.  

“I am and I will stay Social Democrat,” Gerhard Schröder announced a few weeks ago with regard to the procedure. For now, he appears to be correct.