The SPD has learned painfully that arguments and self-occupation tend to go down less well with the electorate. After the federal elections in 2017, the “belligerent party of Germany”, as commentators pointed out at the time, thought they were in an existential crisis. “Possibly the deepest since 1949,” it said later in a 108-page analysis of the historic election disaster, the headline of which was both a warning and a self-declared goal: “Learn from mistakes”.

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