Animal Imagery: The SPD Grows Wings (and Fangs)

Posted by John Rosenthal

The former chair of Germany’s Social Democratic party (SPD), Kurt Beck, was forced out of his post a week ago in an internal party putsch that saw Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier designated the SPD candidate for the chancellorship and Franz Müntefering designated to return to the post of party chair.  As reported in yesterday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) , Beck had this to say about the circumstances of his departure: “I do not want to and will not let myself be convinced that it is a good thing in politics when people adopt the behavior of a wolf pack toward one another.”

As quoted in the same FAZ article, Beck’s replacement Müntefering likewise resorted to animal imagery — bizarrely mixed with a bad pun — in calling for the quarrelsome “wings” [Flügel] of the party to come together. “One needs wings if one wants to move forward fast,” Müntefering said, “But the wings have to know that there is a head in between them. Wings by themselves don’t make any sense.”

Müntefering, as so happens, has something of a history with dubious animal metaphors. It was the same Franz Müntefering who during his first stint as SPD party chair famously described financial investment groups as “locusts.”

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