The SPD is rid of Sarrazin

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The SPD leadership triumphs, Thilo Sarrazin looks grim. After the highest party court approved its expulsion, the controversial author is no longer a member. Is calm coming back now? It doesn’t look like it.

Berlin (dpa) – In the third attempt and after more than ten years, the SPD has done it: Thilo Sarrazin, the controversial best-selling author and ex-politician, is no longer a member of the Social Democrats.

His expulsion from the party was all right, the Friday’s highest arbitral tribunal decided on Friday and said: “With this decision, Sarrazin is no longer a member of the SPD.” The party exclusion serves to “protect the reputation and credibility of the SPD”. Sarrazin, however, immediately made it clear that this was not the end of the matter for him.

SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeil clearly enjoyed the success. “The chapter Thilo Sarrazin is over for us,” he said in front of the party headquarters in Berlin. “In the future, he will no longer be able to spread his racist and anti-Muslim theses under the guise of SPD membership.” He advised accepting that and not being offended.

For his part, Sarrazin does not intend to accept the decision. The former Berlin finance senator and Bundesbanker had already announced several times that he would go to the Federal Constitutional Court for his party book – which, incidentally, he “could not find in the meantime” despite an intensive search. From the SPD headquarters it was said that he had a new one given so that he could hand it in again. As soon as the verdict was public, Sarrazin announced that he would contest it before the Berlin district court. “In my view, the decision was already made before the hearing,” he said. “This was not an open, honest and fair process”.

Every new round also brings new attention to Sarrazin and his books – no wonder that the party leadership finally wants to get this over with. Was it a coincidence that the publishing house invited Sarrazin’s new book to be presented on Friday? “The state at its borders – On the effects of migration in history and the present” is not a surprising topic.

The current process was triggered by Sarrazin’s book “Hostile takeover: How Islam hinders progress and threatens society”, published in 2018. He himself thinks he has “written scientific non-fiction”. For the SPD leadership, on the other hand, the measure is full – and it was right by arbitration courts at district, state and, most recently, federal level. Sarrazin “violated the principles and order of the party significantly and thus harmed it,” wrote the Federal Arbitration Commission.

The SPD has not only had trouble with Sarrazin since 2018, but for more than a decade. The Berlin State Association wanted to officially kick him out for the first time in 2009 after an interview. But the state arbitration commission saw no violation of the party order at the time. At that time, Sarrazin, who has been in the SPD since 1973, had spoken of the “production of headscarf girls”.

Another party order procedure followed in 2011 after the book “Germany abolished” was published. It ended in an amicable agreement between the party leadership and the author. Sarrazin’s provocations against his comrades did not end there. He moved in right circles, appeared with the right FPÖ in Austria and in 2018 alongside AfD leader Jörg Meuthen, and he also spoke in the Bundestag at the invitation of the AfD.

In the third procedure, the SPD leadership wanted to be as watertight as possible. She first had a commission examine the latest Sarrazin book, obtained three reports from scientists – and then pushed for the party to be excluded. “We have worked meticulously towards this day in the past few months,” said Klingbeil.

The legal hurdles for a party exclusion are deliberately high so that the instrument cannot be misused to suppress criticism. The process can also be strategically uncomfortable for parties, because it always provides a stage for unloved members.

Many Greens, for example, would like to see Tübingen’s mayor Boris Palmer leave the party, who regularly annoys his party colleagues with statements about migrants, among other things. The party leadership expressly withdrew the support from the local politician, but so far has not sought exclusion – the example of Sarrazin should have a part in this.

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