- Constituency results, 1912
- Constituency results, 1919 Weimar National Assembly
- Constituency results, 1928
- Constituency results, 1998
- Constituency results, 2017
|Leader|| Malu Dreyer |
|General Secretary||Lars Klingbeil|
|Founded||23 May 1863|
|Merger of||ADAV and SDAP|
|Headquarters||Willy-Brandt-Haus D-10911 Berlin, Germany|
|Women's wing||Association of Social Democratic Women|
|Membership (December 2018)|
|European affiliation||Party of European Socialists|
|International affiliation||Progressive Alliance|
|European Parliament group||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
152 / 709
21 / 69
489 / 1,874
16 / 96
|Ministers-president of states|
7 / 16
The Social Democratic Party of Germany (German : Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD; [zoˈtsi̯aːldemoˌkʁaːtɪʃə paɐ̯ˌtaɪ ˈdɔʏtʃlants] ), is a social-democratic political party in Germany.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Led by Andrea Nahles from 2018 to 2019, the party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in Germany along with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The Social Democrats have governed at the federal level in Germany as part of a grand coalition with the CDU and the Christian Social Union (CSU) since December 2013 following the results of the 2013 and 2017 federal elections. The party participates in 11 state governments and 7 of them are governed by SPD Minister-Presidents.
Andrea Maria Nahles is a German politician who served as Leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from April 2018 until June 2019 and the leader of the SPD in the Bundestag from September 2017 until June 2019. She served as a Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs from 2013 to 2017 and SPD Youth leader. She is known within the party for criticising Gerhard Schröder's Agenda 2010. In June 2019 in the aftermath of the SPD's result in the 2019 European elections, she announced her resignation as leader of the SPD and as parliamentary leader of the SPD. For the transition period until a new SPD-leader is voted in, Manuela Schwesig, Malu Dreyer and Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel act as her successors.
A major party is a political party that holds substantial influence in a country's politics, standing in contrast to a minor party. It should not be confused with majority party.
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian-democratic, liberal-conservative political party in Germany. It is the major catch-all party of the centre-right in German politics. The CDU forms the CDU/CSU grouping, also known as the Union, in the Bundestag with its Bavarian counterpart the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU). Founded in 1945 as an interdenominational Christian party, the CDU effectively replaced the pre-war Catholic Centre Party, but also included politicians of other, liberal and conservative backgrounds. The party therefore claims to represent "Christian-social, liberal and conservative" elements.
The SPD is a member of the Party of European Socialists and initiated the founding of the international Progressive Alliance for social-democratic parties on 22 May 2013after criticising the Socialist International for its acceptance of authoritarian parties. Established in 1863, the SPD is by far the oldest existent political party represented in the German Parliament and was one of the first Marxist-influenced parties in the world.
The Party of European Socialists (PES) is a social-democratic European political party.
The Progressive Alliance (PA) is a political international of social-democratic, socialist and progressive political parties and organisations founded on 22 May 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. The alliance was formed as an alternative to the existing Socialist International, of which many of its member parties are former or current members. The Progressive Alliance claims 140 participants from around the world.
The Socialist International (SI) is a worldwide organisation of political parties which seek to establish democratic socialism. It consists mostly of democratic socialist, social-democratic and labour political parties and other organisations.
The General German Workers' Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, ADAV) founded in 1863 and the Social Democratic Workers' Party (Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SDAP) founded in 1869 later merged in 1875 under the name Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SAPD). From 1878 to 1890 the Anti-Socialist Laws banned any grouping or meeting that aimed at spreading socialist principles, but the party still gained support in elections. In 1890, when the ban was lifted and it could again present electoral lists, the party adopted its current name. In the years leading up to World War I (1914–1918) the party remained ideologically radical in official principle, although many party officials tended to moderation in everyday politics. In the 1912 German federal election the SDP claimed not only the most votes but also the most Reichstag seats of any German party.
The General German Workers' Association was a German political party founded on 23 May 1863 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony by Ferdinand Lassalle.
The Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany was a Marxist socialist political party in the North German Confederation during the period of unification. Founded in Eisenach in 1869, the SDAP endured through the early years of the German Empire. Often termed the Eisenachers, the SDAP was one of the first political organizations established among the nascent German labor unions of the 19th century. It officially existed under the name SDAP for only six years (1869–1875), but through name changes and political partnerships its lineage can be traced to the present-day Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).
The Anti-Socialist Laws or Socialist Laws were a series of acts, the first of which was passed on October 19, 1878 by the German Reichstag lasting until March 31, 1881, and extended four times. The legislation was passed after two failed attempts to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm I by the radicals Max Hödel and Dr. Karl Nobiling; it was meant to curb the growing strength of the Social Democratic Party, which was blamed for influencing the assassins.
Despite the agreement of the Second International to oppose militarism,the Social Democrats supported war in 1914. In response to this and to the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917 in Russia, members of the left-wing and of the far-left of the SPD formed alternative parties, first the Spartacus League (1914–1919), then the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD, April 1917–1931) while the more conservative faction became known as the Majority Social Democratic Party of Germany (MSPD, 1917–1922). From 1918 the SPD played an important role in the political system of the Weimar Republic, although it took part in coalition governments only in few years (1918–1921, 1923 and 1928–1930). Adolf Hitler banned the SPD in 1933 under the Enabling Act and the National Socialist régime imprisoned, killed or forced into exile SPD party officials. In exile, the party used the name Sopade . The Social Democrats had been the only party to vote against the Enabling Act, while the Communist Party was blocked from voting.
The Second International (1889–1916), was an organisation of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on 14 July 1889. At the Paris meeting, delegations from twenty countries participated. The International continued the work of the dissolved First International, though excluding the still-powerful anarcho-syndicalist movement and unions and by 1922 2 April at a major post-World War I conference it began to reorganise into the Labor and Socialist International.
Burgfriedenspolitik —literally "castle peace politics" but more accurately a political policy of "party truce" — is a German term used for the political truce the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the other political parties agreed to during World War I. The trade unions refrained from striking, the SPD voted for war credits in the Reichstag and the parties agreed not to criticize the government and its war. There were several reasons for the Burgfrieden politics: the Social Democrats believed it was their patriotic duty to support the government in war; they were afraid of government repression should they protest against the war; they feared living under an autocratic Russian Czar more than the German constitutional monarchy and its Kaiser; and they hoped to achieve political reforms after the war, including the abrogation of the inequitable three-class voting system, by cooperating with the government.
The Spartacus League was a Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I. The League was named after Spartacus, leader of the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Republic. It was founded by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, and others. The League subsequently renamed itself the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD), joining the Comintern in 1919. Its period of greatest activity was during the German Revolution of 1918, when it sought to incite a revolution by circulating the newspaper Spartacus Letters.
In 1945 the Allied administrations in the Western zones initially allowed the establishment of four parties, which resulted in the (re-)formation of the Christian Democratic Union, the Free Democratic Party, the Communist Party and the SPD. In the Soviet zone of occupation the Soviets forced the Social Democrats to form a common party with the Communists, resulting in the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). In the Western zones, West Germany's Federal Constitutional Court later banned the Communist Party (1956). Since 1949, the SPD has been one of the two major parties in the Federal Republic of Germany, alongside the Christian Democratic Union. From 1969 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2005, the Chancellors of Germany have been Social Democrats whereas in other years the Chancellors were Christian Democrats. Shortly before the reunification of Germany in 1990, the East German Social Democratic Party (founded in 1989) merged with the West German SPD.
Upon defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, the victorious Allies asserted joint authority and sovereignty over 'Germany as a whole', defined as all territories of the former German Reich west of the Oder–Neisse line, having declared the destruction of Nazi Germany at the death of Adolf Hitler. The four powers divided 'Germany as a whole' into four occupation zones for administrative purposes, under the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union respectively; creating what became collectively known as Allied-occupied Germany. This division was ratified at the Potsdam Conference. The four zones were as agreed in February 1945 by the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union meeting at the Yalta Conference; setting aside an earlier division into three zones proposed by the London Protocol.
The Free Democratic Party is a liberal and classical liberal political party in Germany. The FDP is led by Christian Lindner.
The Soviet Occupation Zone was the area of Germany occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II in 1945. On 7 October 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly referred to in English as East Germany, was established in the Soviet Occupation Zone.
The SPD was established as a Marxist party in 1875. However, the Social Democrats underwent a major shift in policies reflected in the differences between the Heidelberg Program of 1925 which "called for the transformation of the capitalist system of private ownership of the means of production to social ownership"and the Godesberg Program of 1959 which aimed to broaden its voter base and move its political position toward the centre. After World War II, under the leadership of Kurt Schumacher the SPD re-established itself as a socialist party representing the interests of the working class and the trade unions. However, with the Godesberg Program the party evolved from a socialist working-class party to a modern social-democratic party working within liberal capitalism.
The current party platform of the SPD espouses the goal of social democracy, which is seen as a vision of a societal arrangement in which freedom and social justice are paramount. According to the party platform, freedom, justice and social solidarity form the basis of social democracy. The coordinated social market economy should be strengthened and its output should be distributed fairly. The party sees that economic system as necessary in order to ensure the affluence of the entire population. The SPD also tries to protect the society's poor with a welfare state. Concurrently, it advocates a sustainable fiscal policy that does not place a burden on future generations while eradicating budget deficits. In social policy, the Social Democrats stand for civil and political rights in an open society. In foreign policy, the party aims at ensuring global peace by balancing global interests with democratic means, thus European integration is one of the main priorities of the party. The SPD supports economic regulations to limit potential losses for banks and people. They support a common European economic and financial policy and to prevent speculative bubbles as well as environmentally sustainable growth.
The SPD is mostly composed of members belonging to either of the two main wings, namely the Keynesian social democrats and Third Way moderate social democrats belonging to the Seeheimer Kreis. While the more moderate Seeheimer Kreis generally support the Agenda 2010 programs introduced by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the Keynesian social democrats continue to defend classical left-wing policies and the welfare state. The classical left-wing of the SPD claims that in recent years the welfare state has been curtailed through reform programs such as the Agenda 2010, Hartz IV and the more economic liberal stance of the SPD, which were endorsed by centrist social democrats.[ citation needed ] As a reaction to the Agenda 2010, there was in 2005 the ascension of an inner party dissident movement which led ultimately to the foundation of the new party Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (Arbeit & soziale Gerechtigkeit – Die Wahlalternative, WASG). The WASG was later merged into The Left (Die Linke) in 2007.
Before World War II, as the main non-revolutionary left-wing party the Social Democrats fared best among non-Catholic workers as well as intellectuals favouring social progressive causes and increased economic equality. Led by Kurt Schumacher after World War II, the SPD initially opposed both the social market economy and Konrad Adenauer's drive towards Western integration fiercely, but after Schumacher's death it accepted the social market economy and Germany's position in the Western alliance in order to appeal to a broader range of voters. It still remains associated with the economic causes of unionised employees and working class voters. In the 1990s, the left and moderate wings of the party drifted apart, culminating in a secession of a significant number of party members which later joined the socialist party WASG, which later merged into The Left (Die Linke).
Geographically, much of the SPD's current-day support comes from large cities, especially of northern and western Germany and Berlin. The metropolitan area of the Ruhr Area, where coal mining and steel production were once the biggest sources of revenues, have provided a significant base for the SPD in the 20th century. In the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, the SPD has governed without interruption since 1949. In southern Germany, the SPD typically garners less support except in the largest cities. At the 2009 federal election, the party lost its only constituency in the entire state of Bavaria (in Munich). Small town and rural support comes especially from the traditionally Protestant areas of northern Germany and Brandenburg (with notable exceptions such as Western Pomerania where CDU leader Angela Merkel was re-elected in 2005) and a number of university towns. A striking example of the general pattern is the traditionally Catholic Emsland, where the Social Democrats generally gain a low percentage of votes, whereas the Reformed Protestant region of East Frisia directly to the north, with its strong traditional streak of Anti-Catholicism, is one of their strongest constituencies. Further south, the SPD also enjoys solid support in northern Hesse (Hans Eichel was mayor of Kassel, then Hesse's Minister-President and finally Finance Minister in the Schröder administration while Brigitte Zypries served as Justice Minister), parts of Palatinate (Kurt Beck was party leader until 7 September 2008) and the Saarland (political home of one-time candidate for federal chancellor Oskar Lafontaine, defected from the SPD in 2005).
The SPD, at times called SAPD, participated in general elections determining the members of parliament. For the elections until 1933, the parliament was called Reichstag, except of the one of 1919 which was called the National Assembly and after 1949 when it was called Bundestag. Note that changes in borders (1871, 1919, 1920, 1949, 1957 and 1990) varied the number of eligible voters whereas electoral laws also changed the ballot system (only constituencies until 1912, only party lists until 1949 and mixed system thereafter), the suffrage (women vote since 1919), the number of seats (fixed or flexible) and the length of the legislative period (three or four years). The list begins after the SPD was formed in 1875, when labour parties unified to only form the SPD (then SAPD, current name since 1890).
|Election year||Constituency votes||Party list votes||% of|
overall votes (until 1912)
party list votes (as of 1919)
|Overall seats won||+/–||Government|
13 / 397
9 / 397
13 / 397
24 / 397
11 / 397
35 / 397
44 / 397
56 / 397
81 / 397
43 / 397
110 / 397
165 / 423
102 / 459
|providing parliamentary support|
|providing parliamentary support|
|May 1924||6,008,905||20.5 (1st)|
100 / 472
|December 1924||7,881,041||26.0 (1st)|
131 / 493
|providing parliamentary support|
153 / 491
143 / 577
|July 1932||7,959,712||21.6 (2nd)|
133 / 608
|November 1932||7,247,901||20.4 (2nd)|
121 / 584
|March 1933||7,181,629||18.3 (2nd)|
120 / 667
|November 1933||Banned. National Socialist German Workers Party sole legal party.|
|1936||Banned. National Socialist German Workers Party sole legal party.|
|1938||Banned. National Socialist German Workers Party sole legal party.|
131 / 402
162 / 509
181 / 519
203 / 521
217 / 518
237 / 518
242 / 518
224 / 518
228 / 519
202 / 520
193 / 519
239 / 662
252 / 672
298 / 669
251 / 603
222 / 614
146 / 622
193 / 630
153 / 709
|Election year||No. of|
overall seats won
33 / 81
32 / 81
30 / 81
40 / 99
33 / 99
23 / 99
23 / 99
27 / 96
16 / 96
|State Parliament||Election year||No. of|
|Baden-Württemberg||2016||679,872||12.7 (4th) |
19 / 138
|Bavaria||2018||1,317,942||9.7 (5th) |
22 / 205
|Berlin||2016||352,369||21.6 (1st) |
38 / 160
|Brandenburg||2014||315,177||31.9 (1st) |
30 / 88
|Bremen||2019||365,315||24.9 (2nd) |
23 / 84
|Hamburg||2015||1,611,274||45.6 (1st) |
58 / 121
|Hesse||2018||570,166||19.8 (3rd) |
29 / 137
|Lower Saxony||2017||1,413,990||36.9 (1st) |
55 / 137
|Mecklenburg-Vorpommern||2016||246,393||30.6 (1st) |
28 / 71
|North Rhine-Westphalia||2017||2,649,205||31.2 (2nd) |
69 / 199
|Rhineland-Palatinate||2016||771,848||36.2 (1st) |
39 / 101
|Saarland||2017||157,841||29.6 (2nd) |
17 / 51
|Saxony||2014||202,374||12.4 (3rd) |
18 / 126
|Saxony-Anhalt||2016||119,377||10.6 (4th) |
11 / 87
|Schleswig-Holstein||2017||400,635||27.2 (2nd) |
21 / 73
|Thuringia||2014||116,889||12.4 (3rd) |
12 / 91
The party is led by the Leader of the Social Democratic Party. They are supported by six Deputy Leaders and the party executive.
The previous leader was Andrea Nahles. She announced her pending resignation on 2 June 2019. The current Deputy Leaders are Manuela Schwesig, Ralf Stegner, Olaf Scholz, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, Natascha Kohnen and Maria Luise "Malu" Dreyer. Dreyer, Schwesig, and Schäfer-Gümbel are currently serving as acting leaders of the party.
As Germany is a federal republic, each of Germany's states have their own SPD party at the state level.
The current leaders of the SPD state parties are the following:
19 / 143
22 / 205
38 / 160
30 / 88
|Bremen||Sascha Karolin Aulepp|
30 / 83
58 / 121
37 / 110
|Lower Saxony||Stephan Weil|
55 / 137
26 / 71
|North Rhine-Westphalia||Sebastian Hartmann|
69 / 199
39 / 101
17 / 51
18 / 126
11 / 87
21 / 73
13 / 91
Germany is a democratic, federal parliamentary republic, where federal legislative power is vested in the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.
The Party of Democratic Socialism was a democratic socialist political party in Germany active between 1989 and 2007. It was the legal successor to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which ruled the German Democratic Republic as a one-party state until 1990. From 1990 through to 2005, the PDS had been seen as the left-wing "party of the East". While it achieved minimal support in western Germany, it regularly won 15% to 25% of the vote in the eastern new states of Germany, entering coalition governments in the federal states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Berlin.
Kurt Ernst Carl Schumacher was a German social democratic politician, who served as chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1946 and was the first Leader of the Opposition in the West German Bundestag from 1949 until his death in 1952. An opponent of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's government, but an even stronger opponent of the East German Socialist Unity Party and communism in general, he was one of the founding fathers of post-war German democracy. He was also a noted opponent of the far-right and the far-left, i.e. the Nazi Party and the Communist Party of Germany, during the Weimar Republic, and is famous for his description of the communists as "red-painted Nazis." He spent over ten years in Nazi concentration camps, where he was severely mistreated.
Oskar Lafontaine is a German politician who served in the government of Germany as Minister of Finance from 1998 to 1999. Previously he was Minister President of the state of Saarland from 1985 to 1998, and he was also Chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 1995 to 1999. After having won the 1998 German federal election along with new Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, he resigned from all political offices, including his seat in the German Bundestag, only a half year later and positioned himself as a popular opponent of Schröder's policies in the tabloid press.
Federal elections were held in West Germany on 6 September 1953 to elect the second Bundestag. The Christian Democratic Union emerged as the largest party.
Federal elections were held in West Germany on 14 August 1949 to elect the first Bundestag, with a further eight seats elected in West Berlin between 1949 and January 1952 and another eleven between February 1952 and 1953. They were the first contested elections since 1933 and the first after the division of the country.
Erich Ollenhauer was the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) 1952–1963.
Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative was a left-wing German political party founded in 2005 by activists disenchanted with the ruling Red-Green coalition government. On 16 June 2007 WASG merged with The Left Party.PDS to form The Left. At the time of its merger with The Left Party.PDS, WASG party membership stood at about 11,600 members.
Federal elections were held in Germany on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th Bundestag. This became necessary after a motion of confidence in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder failed on 1 July. Following the defeat of Schröder's Social Democratic Party (SPD) in a state election, Schröder asked his supporters to abstain from the Bundestag motion, knowing the motion would fail and thus triggering an early federal election.
Traffic light coalition is a term originating in German politics where it describes a coalition government of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens. It arises from the fact that the parties' traditional colours, respectively red, yellow, and green, resemble the normal colour sequence of a traffic light (Ampel). It has subsequently been used to describe similar coalitions between social democrats, liberals, and greens in other countries.
Federal elections took place on 27 September 2009 to elect the members of the 17th Bundestag (parliament) of Germany. Preliminary results showed that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) won the election, and the three parties announced their intention to form a new centre-right government with Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Their main opponent, Frank-Walter Steinmeier's Social Democratic Party (SPD), conceded defeat. The Christian Democrats previously governed in coalition with the FDP in most of the 1949–1966 governments of Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard and the 1982–1998 governments of Helmut Kohl.
The Left, also commonly referred to as the Left Party, is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. It is considered to be left-wing populist by some researchers. The party was founded in 2007 as the result of the merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG). Through the PDS, the party is the direct descendant of the ruling party of the former East Germany (GDR), the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).
Social democracy is a political, social and economic philosophy that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and a capitalist mixed economy. The protocols and norms used to accomplish this involve a commitment to representative and participatory democracy, measures for income redistribution and regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state provisions. In this way, social democracy aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes. Due to longstanding governance by social democratic parties during the post-war consensus and their influence on socioeconomic policy in the Nordic countries, social democracy has become associated in policy circles with the Nordic model in the latter part of the 20th century.
The Seeheimer Kreis is an official internal grouping in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The group describes itself as "undogmatic and pragmatic" and generally takes moderately liberal economic positions.
The foundation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany can be traced back to the 1860s, and for much of the 20th and 21st centuries it has represented the centre-left in German politics. The SPD has been the ruling party at several points, first under Friedrich Ebert in 1918. The party was outlawed in Nazi Germany but returned to government in 1969 with Willy Brandt. Meanwhile, the East German branch of the SPD was merged with the ruling KPD. In the modern Federal Republic of Germany, the SPD are the second largest party after the CDU and are currently in government as a junior coalition partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU. The SPD last held the chancellorship under Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005.
Manuela Schwesig is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party serving as the fifth Minister‐President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern since 4 July 2017. She is the first woman to serve as head of government of this state. Previously she served as Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth from 2013 to 2017.
Carsten Schneider is a German social democratic politician, who has been a member of the German Parliament since 1998. Since 2017, he has been serving as First Secretary of his party's parliamentary group, in this position assisting the group's chairwoman Andrea Nahles.
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