He says this "moment" must be seized now. "Pass on what can be felt here, a new dawn is possible," exclaims Olaf Scholz to his supporters. 43 days before the Bundestag election, the bells rang SPD and their candidate for chancellor on Saturday in bright sunshine in Bochum the "hot phase" of their campaign in.
"Hoch Olaf" is no longer an illusion, nor is it any more social-democratic expedient optimism. Slowly, the political tide is turning in favor of the comrades. In several renowned polling institutes, their party ranks at 18 or 19 percent, only slightly behind the Greens. The result of four years, 20.5 percent, is repeatable.
The Union despairs of its candidate, the Greens are treading water – of the three candidates for chancellor, Scholz feels the most comprehensible tailwind. From next week the election documents go out. In the second half of August, a significant number of the Voters have voted by letter. The SPD timing is perfect.
SPD election campaign kick-off: People remain onlookers
The Dr.-Ruer Square in Bochum is not particularly large, but it is centrally located. Like a magnet, he attracts people who are out and about in the city that morning, 1300 people will hang around the SPD, according to police reports.
The bright red draped stage is small, to the right of it the slogan "Scholz packt das an" protrudes, in front of it three short rows with benches for the party celebrities. The entire inner area is fenced off by metal barriers. There can be no talk of a bath in the crowd, the People remain at a distance, literally: onlookers.
At eleven o'clock, about half an hour before the start, the first rows of onlookers have already formed. When the band starts the ancient song "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge, the first people in the audience bob along.
Scene on the sidelines: security won't let party leader in
"Backstage" you can recognize DGB head Reiner Hoffmann, who will later give a welcoming speech, as well as the only SPD cabinet member from North Rhine-Westphalia, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. Security is tight, the security service has SPD chief Saskia Esken not recognized and do not want to let them in at first, they in turn do not take the everyman entrance.
After Bochum, Scholz completes another appointment in Dortmund, occurs in the evening in Neuss. 90 appearances still on his agenda. The election campaign will end where it began, in NRW, or more precisely: in Cologne at the end. In between, Scholz is also in Bielefeld and Munster.
NRW is a focus because it is the most populous state and because hops and malt have not yet been lost, especially in the Ruhr region. Scholz is concentrating on the strongholds: northern Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin, his new home of Brandenburg, in Saxony he has scheduled a major appearance in Leipzig.
SPD election campaign: also in Bavaria, also digitally
He will not give up the Free State of Bavaria without a fight; several major appearances are scheduled there – unlike in Baden-Wurttemberg, Saarland, Thuringia or Saxony-Anhalt. Scholz has already been on the road digitally at grassroots level throughout Germany in recent months; his speech in Bochum will also be broadcast via livestream.
Secretary General Lars Klingbeil makes the emcee, an easy exercise. "We couldn't think of a better place than Bochum," he says, "in this first league city". Applause. The local VWL has just risen to the top. People are proud.
Also for party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans, formerly a minister in Dusseldorf, it's familiar terrain. "Hello Bochum," he exclaims, "Hello pearl of the district," a small borrowing from the flagship Bochum singer Herbert Gronemeyer.
Saskia Esken: Some publicity on her own behalf
Walter-Borjans says Scholz has proven he can do it. "You don't play first fiddle in this republic in a larifari way" – meaning Union candidate Armin Laschet. But the Green Party's Annalena Baerbock also gets her money's worth: "From zero to 100 at government headquarters is an experiment I wouldn't like."
Walter Borjans speaks freely, his co-chairwoman reads from index cards. Esken says "we want "a society of respect" – a key campaign word. Meaning a minimum wage of twelve euros and a pension "that allows a life in dignity". But what is also meant is that women get "half of the pie," not just in money but in power. "And there Olaf Scholz is exactly the right man."
There talks Esken in her own cause; the top candidate has just held out the prospect of her holding a ministerial post in an SPD-led cabinet.
SPD relies on Scholz and social media in election campaign
SPD kick-off: Scene applause for Scholz
Scholz is the main attraction in Bochum. He is neither the beaming man nor the motivational guru who sweeps across the stage. He seems a bit stiff at the hip, it's not like the audience is hanging on his every word either. The arguments that are supposed to speak for themselves are: A minimum wage of twelve euros, in effect a salary increase for ten million workers.
Scholz promises "that we'll get it done in the first year". Applause. He also promises to build 400.000 new homes a year. That would be 100 below the line.000 more than in 2020.
Olaf Scholz: "Facing a second industrial revolution"
His main concern is the massive expansion of renewable energies. "We're probably on the verge of the second industrial revolution," he believes. That would mean converting the German economy to CO2-neutral production in just under 25 years.
"It can be done, but you can't underestimate that, that's the big future task for our country. And we want to and we will tackle that." Read moreIPCC report – global warming of 1.5 degrees in nine years already
SPD candidate for chancellor: He remains general
The Chancellor candidate gets by with a minimum of attacks on political opponents and pledges. For example, he does not say with whom he would form a coalition. Scholz likes to stay general, talks about a society in which respect for each other takes on a new meaning.
"No one should feel like they're better than anyone else, the grocery store clerk isn't doing anything wrong, neither is the parcel carrier, we do different things, but we do things equally well."Respect must be "the leitmotif of our lives," he announced. At the moment, that's especially true of respect for SPD and its candidate.