Merkel Secures Fourth Term in Power After SPD Backs Coalition Deal
Germany’s Social Democratic party has agreed to form another “grand coalition” government with the conservative CDU, ending months of political uncertainty in Europe and guaranteeing Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term in office.
Sunday’s announcement by the party’s leadership ends almost six months of uncertainty in German politics, the longest the country has been without a government in its postwar history.
A majority of 66.02% members of 463,723 eligible SPD members voted in favour of renewing the constellation that has governed Germany for the last four years, its treasurer, Dietmar Nietan, confirmed at the party’s headquarters in Berlin.
“We now have some clarity”, said the Social Democrats’ caretaker leader, Olaf Scholz, a contender for the role of finance minister, speaking at the Willy Brandt House. “The SPD will enter into government”.
The leadership of the SPD had initially ruled out joining Merkel in government in the wake of historically disappointing results at federal elections in September last year.
But the collapse of talks to form an unorthodox “Jamaica” coalition between Merkel’s conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Green party forced the German centre-left back to the negotiating table, where it managed to secure a surprising victory in getting the chancellor to cede control of the influential finance ministry.
Nonetheless, a Young Socialist youth wing led by energetic 28-year-old Kevin Kühnert put together an effective campaign that encouraged members to reject the deal that the party’s senior leadership had agreed with Merkel’s CDU.
Europe’s oldest social democratic party needed to reinvent itself in opposition if it wanted to avoid the fate of the French Socialists, the “NoGroKo” camp argued.
In the end, the result was clearer than expected: with 66%, a higher percentage of members gave their approval than delegates had done at a party summit in Bonn in January. Four years ago, 76% of SPD members had voted in favour of a grand coalition.
This week, the SPD will discuss the contenders for its six ministerial post, with Scholz confirming on Sunday that there would be three female and three male ministers. Merkel is due to be officially sworn in as the new chancellor on 14 March.
Source: The Guardian
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