Berlin (dpa) – With an emotional speech, SPD Deputy Kevin Kühnert said goodbye to Juso’s boss’s office and urged his association to stick to the left. “I had a lot of fun,” he stressed with tears at the digital federal conference of young socialists.
He called on the Jusos not to let themselves be belittled and overthrown. “You don’t have to say that the debates are not important,” he demanded.
Kühnert is stepping down prematurely as head of Juso after three years because he wants to move to the Bundestag next year. Party leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans thanked him for his support in their election a year ago and in profiling the SPD. “As the face of the Jusos, you’ve brought the Jusos back into the public consciousness in a new way,” said Walter-Borjans. Rarely before have Juso’s positions had such a big impact on the party. “You are incredibly present and you are also controversial in an incredibly constructive way.”
Kühnert called on the Jusos to stay on their left course. The Corona crisis in particular shows that many of their long-standing demands can be fulfilled: suspension of the debt brake, high government investment, job guarantees through reduced working hours, more school buses in the morning. “Why should that only be possible in times of crisis?” Asked Kühnert. Many people would now be reluctant to admit that the Juso’s supposedly utopian ideas are not so absurd. In this context, Kühnert reiterated the demand for higher taxes for the rich.
In his speech, the 31-year-old described the job of the Jusos: they are not a debating club, but want to influence political decisions. In recent years, they also wanted to shake up the parties, all of which had gathered too much in the middle of the political spectrum and were all in agreement in one way or another. “In response to our suggestions, I don’t want to hear, ‘Man, you’re crazy,’ I want to hear counter suggestions,” he stressed.
The Jusos were often more on the cutting edge than many realized. Many of their proposals were not taken seriously at first, but are now being seriously discussed in the SPD – such as ticket-free local transport. “Listening to Jusos more often means realizing where the dangerous political debates are going on,” he said.
The party leaders stated that they see no future in the grand coalition. It is true that she is currently able to keep the country afloat in crisis like a ship in heavy seas. “But you have to be prepared when the sea calms down and where the question is being asked, where is it going,” said Walter-Borjans. “This coalition is not the one leading the course to the right future of this country.”
Esken praised her former competitor and current candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The Vice Chancellor was “a nice fellow,” she said. If he was not, in addition to being the Minister of Finance, also Minister of Economy in the Corona crisis, “nothing would work”. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU), on the other hand, remains very pale. “For the CDU, the lack of politics is the best economic policy,” Esken criticized.
The Jusos wanted to start voting by letter on Saturday to succeed Kühnert. The only candidate is the former North Rhine-Westphalian Juso chairman Jessica Rosenthal. The results of the vote will be announced on January 8.
Rosenthal warned the SPD against a federal election campaign targeting Scholz exclusively. “I don’t want to see a campaign that is only about one person,” the 28-year-old told Funke media group newspapers (Saturday). “Olaf Scholz knows he has to make offers to the Jusos and young people. I demand that. “The Jusos want to include several requirements in the election program of the SPD. This includes a state guarantee for an internship and a job guarantee.