Gerhard Schröder remains the attractive figure in his party. The latest irritation is caused by Schröder’s planned honor for 60 years of party membership in the SPD. The leadership of the federal SPD is at least surprised by this because the former chancellor has been heavily criticized in the party because of his contacts with Russia. “The honor is based on a decision by the SPD district of Hanover,” said SPD treasurer and board member Dietmar Nietan to the “Tagesspiegel” on Wednesday. In any case, the SPD party executive does not honor Schröder. “I would also speak out against such an honor in the party executive,” added Nietan.

As the newspaper reported with reference to party circles, there is anger in the SPD leadership about the honor planned for October 27th. Ahead of the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse on October 8th, where the SPD is threatened with poor results, there are fears that the project will cause further damage. The SPD regional associations of Bavaria and Hesse, which are campaigning for the election, initially did not want to comment on the honor, according to the “Tagesspiegel”.

The honoring of Schröder has been causing a dispute within the party for a long time: the Hanover-Oststadt-Zoo local association that was actually responsible had not been able to agree on honoring Schröder, but the Hanover district association is now taking over this. However, there will not be a larger official ceremony – as planned by the party’s guidelines – but instead there will be a non-public anniversary celebration with around 50 guests.

The SPD district of Hanover refused to give the “Tagesspiegel” the names of the invited guests. The district therefore referred to “data protection reasons”, which is why no details would be provided. According to the newspaper, the 79-year-old will be honored in the Kurt Schumacher House, the headquarters of the SPD district.

The laudatory speech will be given by the former mayor of Hanover, Herbert Schmalstieg (SPD). He defended the planned honor: “We want to honor Gerhard Schröder for what he achieved as Prime Minister in Lower Saxony, also for Hanover, and as Federal Chancellor,” Schmalsieg told the “Tagesspiegel”.

Schröder has “very, very great achievements that I will mention in a comprehensive laudatory speech,” he continued. Of course, Schröder condemned Russia’s war. It was a mistake that he didn’t stop working for Gazprom immediately. “But that is by no means a reason to isolate a former Chancellor,” added the SPD politician.

The ex-chancellor has been criticized for his lobbying activities for Russian energy companies and his personal closeness to President Vladimir Putin. An attempt by numerous local associations to exclude the politician from the party finally failed in May: the Federal Arbitration Commission of the SPD approved the rejection of the request by the lower courts and thus confirmed the membership of Schröder, who had joined the party in 1963.