The German Social Democratic Party (SPD) celebrated its 140 years
of existence on 23 May 2003 with the appropriate fanfare in Berlin.
Not too many other political parties in the world can match this survival
record, especially given the hostility of Chancellor Bismarck,
who in 1878 outlawed the fledgling party as an organization for
twelve years, and of Adolf Hitler, who in 1933 drove the party into
exile for twelve years. During the post-World War II era, the SPD
reestablished itself as a major party and shared in governing the
country from 1966 to 1982 and again from 1998 to the present. It
has left an imprint on the country’s domestic and foreign policies.
But in the twenty-first century’s initial years, the SPD, despite being
in power, is facing serious problems of maintaining membership and