Germany to finally have a new gov't as SPD agrees in referendum

Hannah Rogers
March 6, 2018

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) have bought Chancellor Angela Merkel time with their vote to join her conservatives in another coalition, but she risks losing her long grip on power if she fails to balance the awkward allies' conflicting demands.

Merkel, who has proved herself a shrewd global negotiator during more than 12 years in office, faced her greatest challenge at home after deciding to allow over a million asylum-seekers into Germany since 2015.

The idea was to keep one of the most influential leaders, Merkel as the Chancellor in Berlin.

Senior conservative Jens Spahn, seen as one possible successor to Merkel, warned the SPD not to obstruct government policy in a re-run of the coalition that has ruled since 2013.

The SPD's approval ended the five-month-long political stalemate and cleared way for Germany's new government after the September 24 Federal Parliament elections, in which both of the two blocs suffered the worst turnovers since 1949.

Taking aim at the SPD's decision on Sunday to renew its partnership with Merkel, the AfD predicted that "the bill will come at the latest in 2021", when Germans are again due to go to the polls.

The newspaper Die Welt reported on Saturday that SPD member and Bundestag Vice President Thomas Opperman said the SPD should be more self-confident, cheeky and ready for conflict in the next coalition government.

German Chancellor and chairwomen of the German Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel leaves after a statement at the party headquarters in Berlin Germany Monday

He said the FDP would examine legislative proposals on a case-by-case basis if Merkel was forced to form a minority government, but added: "Such a government would probably only last a few months".

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert says such measures "would sorely affect global trade flows", European industries and in particular "workers and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic".

After talks between the FDP (liberal Free Democratic Party) and the CDU, the Green Party disbanded in November, which meant renewing the Grand Coalition (GroKo) was the only solution left for a multiparty.

Kevin Kuehnert, head of the SPD's Jusos youth wing who campaigned for a "No" vote, is ready to call out any delay in implementing the hard-won coalition deal, which envisages eurozone reforms in partnership with France.

The centre-left Social Democrats had furiously debated whether to extend the so-called grand coalition for another four years after suffering a slump in last year's election. But crucially, at a congress this week, her party also formally appointed its new general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, tapped by Merkel to kickstart the renewal process. The uncertainty was followed by inconclusive elections in September past year.

All that "requires us to begin work quickly in the government", she said.

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