Posted by Thersites on  UTC 2017-12-16 18:00

Martin Schulz, Parteivorsitzender der SPD, 05.12.2017. Image: Uwe Düttmann | ©Susie Knoll

Martin Schulz, Party Chairman of the SPD in Germany, 05.12.2017. Image: Uwe Düttmann | ©Susie Knoll

At the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands = socialist) party conference in Berlin on 7 December, its Chairman, Martin Schulz, laid out his vision of a united Federal Europe:

I want there to be a European Constitution that creates a federal Europe, that poses no threat to its member states but is rather a rational extension. Such a constitution must be written by a convention that embraces the civil society and the people of Europe.

Not too sure about who the 'civil society' and the 'people of Europe' are, nor how a few hundred million people are going to draw up this constitution, but let's hear him out:

This constitution must be created with people. When we have it, it should then be presented to the member states. Whoever is against it leaves the European Union straight away.

So if you don't agree with the Federal Constitution that has been written by the people, off you go. This process should be completed by 2025. Naming no names but, since you mention it…

Just look at what is happening in Poland, where our common values are being systematically undermined and the EU is incapable of doing anything against it!

Look at Hungary! This country has not just refused any solidarity in the face of the refugee crisis, it is concluding major deals with China and detaching itself more and more from the European community.

The trouble is that the 'people of Europe' actually have other ideas, as even Schulz has noticed:

Look at the election results in the Netherlands, in France, in Finland, in Denmark, in Austria and even here in Germany! Everywhere the right-wingers and the ultra-nationalists are growing stronger, who have no time for our vision of a free and open society and who want to seal off their countries and who have a view of the world that is completely out of date.

Perhaps when he says 'people of Europe' he really means just the party faithful of the German SPD.

The Hungarian government was certainly not happy with being singled out as European troublemakers. A few days after Schulz's speech to the comrades none other than János Lázar, the Minister of the Hungarian Chancellery, responded explicitly to Schulz's remarks in a press conference:

From the viewpoint of Hungary, the vision that Martin Schulz formulated of a new constitution for Europe and the United States of Europe which everyone has to join by 2025 is completely shocking. And whoever does not join will be automatically excluded. The last person to issue an ultimatum of the sort that Martin Schulz just did was Adolf Hitler. Hungary has never been given such an ultimatum in the last seventy to eighty years.

Perhaps all those years ago Silvio Berlusconi was right about Martin Schulz, as we have occasionally recalled on this website:

Herr Schulz, I know a film producer in Italy who at this moment is making a film in Italy about the Nazi concentration camps. I'll propose you for the role of the camp commandant. You would be perfect.

Handelsblatt. I bet the EU Italian-German translator enjoyed that one.

Berlusconi knew an autocrat when he saw one, even if a low-level one like Schulz. It's amusing how Schulz's autocratic ways – as amply demonstrated in his 'people's constitution' – is a worthy magnet for such jibes.

In 2010, the loose tongue of Godfrey Bloom of UKIP, at that time an MEP, shouted at Schulz the Nazi slogan 'Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer', later calling him an undemocratic fascist.

In May 2014, the Italian populist politician, Beppe Grillo, on his blog supported Berlusconi's observation:

Berlusconi wasn’t completely wrong to call him 'kapò' [commandant] even though he's more like a 'krapò', meaning 'crapùn' {stubborn}, a hard head with a nail on the outside of the helmet, one who isn’t afraid to shoot his mouth off.

If Nazi invective is not your thing – Godwin's Law and all that – then you need to find some appropriately strong language to condemn Schulz's fascist authoritarianism. Schulz's cynical invocation of the 'European people' as opposed to their governments is not all that far from the cynicism of the title of Mussolini's newspaper, Il Popolo d'Italia. That's the kind of thing that gives populism a bad name.

If, as seems likely, the new Grosse Koalition comes into being in Germany, just remember that this man and his hangers-on will hold very high positions in the German government. Fall down to your knees and give thanks for Brexit, hoping against hope that somehow it happens.

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