Former Chancellor Schröder may remain in the SPD until further notice. Thilo Sarrazin, on the other hand, had to give up his party membership after years of quarreling. Now he is harshly judging his former comrades. Dissatisfaction with the Schröder decision is stirring within the party, including from a prominent position.

Author Thilo Sarrazin, who was expelled from the SPD, has criticized the decision of a party arbitration commission on former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. “Either the SPD is completely free of morals or they believe that a book critical of Islam is worse than support for a brutal dictator like Putin,” the former politician told the “Bild” newspaper. In any case, “double standards” are used here.

Former Chancellor Schröder was heavily criticized for his commitment to Russian state-owned companies and his closeness to President Vladimir Putin, especially after Russia’s attack on Ukraine at the end of February. More than a dozen SPD branches applied for party order proceedings against the 78-year-old. The responsible arbitration commission of the SPD sub-district Hanover decided on Monday in the first instance that Schröder could not be proven to have violated the party order. She sees no basis for a complaint or even an exclusion from the party. An appeal against the decision can be made within two weeks.

From the point of view of Schröder’s lawyer, “no other decision could be expected”. Michael Nagel told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” that Schröder had “clearly distanced himself from the war from the start and described Russia’s decision as a mistake”. However, the decision of the commission was not well received by comrades in the south-west. “The verdict disappoints me personally and disappoints us as the SPD district association in Heidelberg,” said Tim Tugendhat, deputy head of the SPD in the city. His association was among those who pushed Schröder’s exclusion. We reserve the right to appeal, he said. In the course of Tuesday, all sections would decide together whether to appeal.

The SPD politician and Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach called on Schröder to leave the SPD. “It’s a pity that Gerhard Schröder doesn’t simply resign,” Lauterbach wrote on Twitter. “If the “friendship” with the butcher Putin is so valuable to him, he no longer has a place in the SPD. Innocent children die at the hands of a narcissistic dictator. Unforgivable.”

Sarrazin was expelled from the SPD in 2020, but he gave up his resistance a little later. It was sparked by several of Sarrazin’s books, including 2018’s Hostile Takeover: How Islam Impedes Progress and Threatens Society. Sarrazin himself thought he had written academic non-fiction. The SPD leadership, on the other hand, argued that Sarrazin’s anti-Muslim theses violated the party’s principles and caused it damage. According to the “Bild” report, Sarrazin is certain “that in my case and in the case of Gerhard Schröder, the decision did not come about without consultation with the party executive and party chairmanship.”