Achim Post (64), member of the Bundestag, and Sarah Philipp (40), member of the Duisburg state parliament, form the first dual leadership in the history of the North Rhine-Westphalian SPD.

At a state party conference in Münster, the chairman of the NRW state group in the Bundestag was elected with around 92 percent of the 449 valid votes as the new head of the SPD state association with the most members. His co-chair Philipp, who is also parliamentary director of the SPD in the state parliament, received around 88 percent. There were no opposing candidates.

Amendment of the articles of incorporation

The party congress had previously made it possible to choose the tandem with an amendment to the statutes that had already been decided at federal level in 2019. The delegates elected the 37-year-old former state head of the Jusos, Frederick Cordes, as the new General Secretary with around 87 percent of the votes – also unopposed. The Oberhausen member of parliament and geographer has been a member of the SPD state executive since 2017.

The new election became necessary after Thomas Kutschaty’s resignation last March. In May, the former North Rhine-Westphalia Minister of Justice resigned as chairman of the opposition parliamentary group as a result of disagreements within the party.

SPD at rock bottom

The SPD in North Rhine-Westphalia hopes that their new leadership will give them a double push out of the trough. The traditional party, which once ruled the most populous federal state for decades, fell to an all-time low of 26.7 percent in the NRW elections in May 2022. In surveys in recent months, it was even lower – at 20 to 22 percent.

NRW has been governed by CDU-led coalitions since 2017. Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) has been leading the first black-green alliance in state history since May 2022.

Post attacks EPP boss Weber

Achim Post had previously sharply attacked the conservative EPP boss Manfred Weber (CSU). In his candidate’s speech, Post accused Weber of organizing “for years and days alliances between Christian Democrats and right-wing extremists, right-wing extremists and fascists.” He did this in Sweden, Finland and Italy and tried unsuccessfully in Spain.

“It’s no small matter,” Post said. “This is the biggest taboo break in the last 20, 30 years.” For months he has heard “nothing but a roaring silence” from CDU leader Friedrich Merz. One cannot pretend that there is a firewall against the AfD in Germany, while one right-wing alliance after another is being set up in Europe.

EU Parliament Vice President Katarina Barley (SPD) had recently criticized the lack of distance between the conservatives in Europe and the right and especially Weber’s course. Weber, on the other hand, had assured in an interview that his party adhered to firm principles when dealing with other forces. Anyone who does not adhere to the principles, such as the AfD, are opponents “and we will fight them”.

Weber was criticized for his contacts with Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Members of his own group in the EU Parliament and other leading European politicians had criticized the fact that the CSU deputy recently gave no fundamental rejection to an alliance with the ultra-right Fratelli d’Italia (Italy’s brothers).