Germany Social Democrats back coalition talks with Merkel's conservatives

Pauline Gross
January 22, 2018

If the SPD delegates vote for formal talks, then a new German government, in the form of another grand coalition (Grosse Koalition or GroKo as it's known), would probably follow, with Mrs Merkel returned as Chancellor.

The thumbs-up will come as a huge relief to Merkel, staving off the threat of snap polls or the unappealing prospect of leading an unstable minority government.

"One party may win in government, the AfD", Brux said.

"Of course we are all relieved", Schulz was quoted by German Das Bild newspaper as saying. A no vote could wreck any coalition deal.

If the talks are successfully concluded, a new government could be in place by mid-March almost six months after September's tricky election. "This is achievable for the improvement of the lives of people in Germany and in Europe".

He said: "Europe is waiting for a Germany that knows its responsibility for Europe and can act decisively".

"Only a strong and united SPD can make our country and Europe stronger", he said.

The leadership of the Social Democratic Party is trying to close party ranks and pave the way for a renewal of its grand coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union (both parties known as the Union) in the run-up to the SPD special congress on January 21 in Bonn.

However Merkel's subsequent attempts to form an alternative coalition with Germany's environmentalist Green party and the pro-business liberal Free Democrats broke down late previous year after the liberals complained that their policies were at risk of being ignored in a Merkel-led coalition.

Fresh elections avoided for now as Social Democrats approve negotiations with Merkel's conservatives by 56 percent.

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While endorsement seems likely, the proposal is so fiercely opposed by the SPD's youth wing and the party's members on the left that a No vote can not be ruled out, a scenario that would trigger another election or force Ms. Merkel into a lame-duck minority government.

The SPD's youth and left wings oppose coalition talks and say the blueprint does not contain enough SPD hallmarks.

He described the coalition as a "revolution" for German education policy and "a manifesto for a European Germany".

But critics within the SPD have bemoaned the party's failure to secure a tax hike for the rich or a restructuring of the country's two-tier health care system.

Coalition talks could start as early as on Monday.

Schulz has since insisted that many details still need to be ironed out and proposed that any future coalition government be put under review after two years.

Yesterday's vote was tense until the last minute. It's been suggested that the SPD's call for a "European awakening" has dominated initial conversations and has shaped the opening pages of the potential coalition's new agenda.

Should the SPD open the door to another four-year co-habitation - its third since 2005 - with Angela Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic (CDU/CSU) alliance?

One way, discussed by some other CDU lawmakers, of achieving an orderly handover would see Merkel relinquish the CDU party chair to a designated successor in 2020 while remaining chancellor, a scenario which would allow the person to raise their profile. Hard negotiations will now begin, but the grassroots SPD membership could reject the deal their leaders broker once they get to examine the coalition contract and programme.

Other reports by GizPress

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