HE CALLS his party the "New" SPD, his slogan appealed to the political centre and he even produced an election pledge card for German voters.
Little wonder that when Gerhard Schroder was congratulated by Tony Blair on Sunday afternoon, the world was quick to point up the comparisons between the two men.
So is the new government in Bonn the beginning of a new chapter in Britain's relations with Europe? On paper, the result is good news for Mr Blair. The chemistry is good between the two leaders. As one British diplomat put it yesterday: "No one is talking about an overnight change, but Britain and Germany suddenly have more interests in common."
Links between New Labour and the SPD are strong, forged in the international socialist group meetings which take place before summits. Jost Stollman, the 43-year-old entrepreneur and moderniser who was shadow economics minister, was the latest SPD visitor to London and duly impressed Blairites. Whitehall optimists see a series of issues on which Germany could enter into strategic alliances with Britain. …