German SPD Leader Breaks with Custom, Backs Obama | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.06.2008
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German SPD Leader Breaks with Custom, Backs Obama

Despite German politicians having long steered clear of commenting on foreign elections, the chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD), Kurt Beck, announced that an Obama presidency "would be good for the whole world."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama

Barack Obama gets the backing of Kurt Beck

"I'd like to say very openly that I really do hope that he wins," Beck said after a speech in the eastern German town of Erfurt.

Beck's remarks were also a tacit criticism of current US environmental policies. He called for an America "that doesn't veto social and ecological programs or does not support them."

"I'd be delighted if we would have an America like that, an America that wants to tackle those problems," he said.

Obama backing comes at crucial time for SPD

Kurt Beck

Beck's party is suffering in the polls

The disregard shown by Beck -- who is the SPD candidate for the German chancellery -- of Germany's general post-war silence on foreign political commentary has come at a time when he trails conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel in national opinion polls.

With the SPD as a whole registering at an historic low of 20 percent in polls, Beck's comments may be aimed at regaining some of this lost ground by tapping in to the stream of western European support for an Obama presidency.

A recent poll conducted by Angus Reid Global Monitor found that 67 percent of respondents in Germany would vote for Barack Obama if they participated in the upcoming US presidential election.

In a recent interview with DW-WORLD.DE, former US Ambassador to Germany John Kornblum commented that Obama's European appeal likely arises from the image he projects as a fresh, new leader.

He said many western Europeans were attracted to the idea of a US President "who offers a vision, a fresh start and brings people together, instead of dividing them".

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