Joachim Poß: the ever critical SPD veteran

Joachim Poß has been a member of the SPD since 1966, including 37 years as a member of the German Bundestag.

Joachim Poß has been politically active for more than half a century. Even in retirement, he does not keep quiet. He regularly gives his opinion on current political events. “I have always been critical. So critical, in fact, that it has earned me disciplinary proceedings in the past,” he recalls of his not always friendly relationship with his own party. The issue of social justice, in particular, concerns him: “The inequality in society has become even greater as a result of the pandemic.”

Poß has been a member of the SPD since 1966: from 1999 to 2013, on the Federal Party Executive Committee. He was a member of the Bundestag for 37 years, including years as his parliamentary group’s financial policy spokesman, a member of the Finance Committee, and, from 2013 to 2017, on the Committee on EU Affairs.

His career began in post-war Gelsenkirchen: “I come from a miner’s family. In my youth, I witnessed huge protests; the future of these jobs was already uncertain back then.” Poß became editor of a newspaper for the young trade union and a member of the SPD-affiliated youth organization Die Falken. The step into the party was predestined. After graduating from school, he embarked on an administrative career in the upper echelons of the Gelsenkirchen city administration.

In 1980, his election to the Bundestag marked the beginning of his unprecedented career as a member of parliament, which lasted until 2017: Joachim Poß’s constituency Gelsenkirchen 1 elected him to parliament, again and again, sometimes with votes of almost 60 percent – despite all the changes in the SPD. All thanks to his trusted and deep-rooted ties to his region, he was able to help shape international politics through the end of the Cold War.

Witness of growing populism

In conversation, he recounts his travels through Europe and the USA over the past decades. He already noticed some developments early on that intensified much later. For example, “the financial policy in Greece was already bad in the 1990s. And before the word was on everyone’s lips, I was able to observe emerging populism very early on, in Italy, France, and here in Germany.”

The same applies to the US: In the 00s, he was there every year and observed the strengthening of the Tea Party: “Actually, this is a ‘civil war’ situation, I told the American interlocutors back then; and that’s how it is partly described today. And Trump’s re-election is not off the table given Biden’s poor performance so far.”

Joachim Poß spoke with Europe.Table a few weeks before Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Amid the politically and diplomatically escalating situation, he recalled a 2014 business trip: “I was in Donetsk just one day before the so-called separatists took over parts of the Donbas, caught the strange, almost ghostly atmosphere.” The reason for the official trip was to assess the situation in Ukraine after the Maidan. In light of problems such as nationalism, poverty, and corruption, Joachim Poß often wonders “whether there have not been steps backward in some areas”. Vera Altmolak


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