German Social Democrats Under Pressure to Form Grand Coalition
The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats came under growing pressure on Thursday to drop his opposition to a new “grand coalition” with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, with senior politicians arguing the party had a duty to promote stability, reported Reuters.
Merkel is facing the biggest political crisis of her career since efforts to forge a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens collapsed last weekend. That has raised worries across Europe of a prolonged leadership vacuum in the continent’s economic powerhouse.
Pressure is growing on the party to revisit his decision, either by agreeing to prop up a conservative-led minority government by not voting against it, or by forming a renewed coalition.
In either case, the position of Schulz as party leader could become untenable. If changing course and teaming up with the conservatives requires a change of leadership at the SPD, that would be unlikely before a party conference on Dec. 7-9.
Schulz held a lengthy meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former SPD lawmaker and foreign minister, on Thursday afternoon before heading to party headquarters to consult senior party members. Steinmeier is trying to help facilitate a coalition government and avoid fresh elections.
“We will talk about if and how one can get a federal government in Germany,” a senior SPD member said ahead of the meeting, adding that one option on the table was to support Merkel only indirectly by not blocking a minority government.
“Minority governments are fragile constructs,” he told the RND newspaper consortium. The SPD had to chart a path between a party rank-and-file reluctant to repeat the bruising experience of a grand coalition and its democratic obligations.
“Everyone understands that the stakes are high, involving the stability of an extremely important member of the European Union,” he added.