Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), the leading party in the “Socialist International” for many decades, is talking about leaving the “International”.

Both Mubarak’s NDP in Egypt, and Ben Ali’s RCD in Tunisia, were until their downfall members of the “Socialist International”.

An article by SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel in the liberal Frankfurter Rundschau points out the obvious, that the Socialist International is irrelevant, that it is no longer a “voice for freedom”, that many member parties should be expelled from it, that it is embarrassing that parties such as Mubarak’s or Ben Ali’s only got expelled after they were deposed at home…

Formally the “Socialist International” traces its history back to the Second International, founded in 1889, which included Frederick Engels, August Bebel, Jean Jaures, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky and many others among its leading members. In fact that International collapsed in 1914, when most of its member parties backed their “own” bourgeois governments in World War One.

Reassembled after 1918, it still had something of the character of an association of (now clearly reformist) workers’ parties, but for many decades now it has swollen its ranks by including parties like the NDP and RCD.

Former union-boss and prominent Social Democrat Stig Malm said on Tuesday he is “ashamed” to be a member of the party in light of its protracted leader election process.

Malm, who was chairman of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) between 1983 and 1993, is one of the representatives set to participate in the Social Democrats extra congress, which has been called to elect a successor to outgoing party leader Mona Sahlin.

But the party’s closed nomination process has left him furious.

“It is completely unworthy of the Social Democratic party to treat people this way. We are elected to come together and choose a leader, not just to vote for what we are told in a purely Stalinist fashion,” he told the TT news agency.

Malm thinks the party should adopt a different leadership election process which allow attendees at the congress to choose between several candidates.

The various party district bosses who are currently blocking the selection process should face up to their responsibility and openly present their candidates.

“We look terribly old-fashioned. I’ve been part of this for almost a hundred years and never have I seen such ridiculous monkey business,” said Malm.

The chairperson of the election committee, Berit Andnor, refused to comment Malm’s harsh criticism of the closed leader election process, but several high-ranking Social Democrats have expressed similar views.

Former party leader Mona Sahlin has previously expressed a wish for a more open election process, but told TT that Stig Malm was not perhaps the best person to speak of openness.

“I remember just how open the process usually is to elect a LO chair, she said sarcastically to TT.