ABSTRACT

Ever since the general election in 1998, if not earlier, election campaigns in Germany have been run with one clear objective: to appeal to the “new centre,” as the victorious Social Democratic Party (SPD) described itself at the time. Its relative success at the ballot box presumably led the then opposition to also seize upon the “centre mantra,” to borrow the expression from the front page of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel from 31 December 2007. The electoral contenders could not afford to ignore “the centre” if they wanted a majority in the parliament.