• Germany's news in English

Opposition drags heels over Merkel coalition

The Local · 25 Sep 2013, 10:30

Published: 25 Sep 2013 10:30 GMT+02:00

Despite increasing their share of the vote by 16 percent in Sunday's election, Merkel's CDU and CSU sister party came just short of the majority needed to rule alone. This will be especially vital when it comes to passing future eurozone bail-outs.

The downfall of Merkel's previous coalition partners, the Liberal FDP, has left her no choice but to reach out to her political adversaries on the left to build a majority government.

But by Wednesday neither the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD) nor the Green party had shown any enthusiasm for sharing power with Merkel's CDU - a move many in both parties consider political suicide.

With the Chancellor keen to secure a partner to avoid having to call fresh elections, all eyes are fixed on an SPD vote scheduled for Friday where the party leadership will vote on whether they want to form a coalition with Merkel.

"The SPD is not queuing up or competing [to join government] after Merkel has just ruined her current coalition partner," said SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel on Monday, as it became clear the majority of members were against forming a so-called 'grand coalition' with Merkel.

Hannelore Kraft, state premier of SPD-stronghold North-Rhine Westphalia, has emerged as the head of a movement to reject a coalition after penning a resolution on Tuesday stating the SPD should not prop up a CDU-dominated government. The SPD paid sorely for the last grand coalition formed with Merkel in 2005, losing 76 seats at the 2009 election.

Only the party's left-wing is proposing to topple Merkel by forming a coalition with the Green party and the socialist Left party, an option the SPD leadership has repeatedly rejected, citing questionable democratic credentials among Die Linke's membership.

Meanwhile, the party's right-wing is pushing the Green Party forward. "I think it's the Greens turn now," Johannes Kahrs, spokesman for the SPD's right-leaning party group Seeheimer Kreise told ARD broadcaster on Wednesday.

But outgoing Green Party leader Cem Özdemir said on Wednesday he thought Merkel would not offer his party the kind of concessions necessary for a coalition, which would have to be "much, much bigger" than those needed to win round the SPD.

The CDU/CSU Union party meanwhile, the winners of Sunday's vote, ironically has to offer major compromises.

"Of course we'll have to be willing to compromise in all areas. Otherwise we won't form a coalition," CDU vice Armin Laschet told Welt newspaper.

Story continues below…

Yet if neither party steps up, Merkel's CDU faces an unpleasant choice. Either it must form an uncomfortable minority government which would have to seek majorities for each individual vote, or opt for the most extreme outcome - calling fresh elections.

Already, some in the party are calling for just that. "[A minority government] cannot work," CSU parliamentary chairman Stefan Müller told Bild on Wednesday. "If the [SPD and Greens] tactically refuse to take responsibility for the good of our nation then we will have to vote again," agreed CDU member of parliament Christian Hirte.

The most likely outcome is still a grand coalition between the CDU and SPD but that could be many weeks away.

READ MORE: CDU softens stance on tax hikes in search for ally

The Local/DPA/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local List
The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

German broadcaster sues Turkey over confiscated video
Akif Cagatay Kilic. Photo: DPA

German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Monday it had filed a civil complaint after a Turkish minister's office confiscated a taped video interview with him.

Germany's 'James Bond' goes on trial over tax evasion
Werner Mauss. Photo: DPA.

Germany's former top spy, Werner Mauss, went on trial on Monday accused of hiding millions of euros from authorities.

Germany holds first national 'mermaiding' championship
Photo: DPA

Ariel would be proud.

15 pics that prove Germany is totally enchanting in autumn
The Max-Eyth-See in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

As summer fades into a distant memory and you start to begrudge trading Birkenstocks for boots, these pictures may help change your perspective on the new chill in the air.

Left politician who smuggled refugee could lose immunity
Diether Dehm. Photo: DPA.

Die Linke (Left Party) politician Diether Dehm could lose his immunity as an elected official after he admitted to smuggling a refugee into Germany.

Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record in Berlin marathon win
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd