• Germany's news in English

Social Democrats debate working with Merkel

The Local · 27 Sep 2013, 11:15

Published: 27 Sep 2013 11:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel will ask the 200 delegates meeting in Berlin to agree on the procedure which would see coalition negotiations with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) followed by a vote on the terms by the party's entire membership.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung, which reported Gabriel's tactic, said this was the only way the leadership could be sure of grassroots support if they were to take the party into coalition with the CDU.

The newspaper also said that such a vote among the nearly half-a-million members would ideally take place before the annual SPD party conference on November 14th.

The paper said this showed Gabriel and other SPD leaders tying their political fortunes to the question of ruling in coalition with Merkel. He and the others set to negotiate a coalition contract could hardly expect the party conference to elect them to high office if the grassroots had rejected their coalition plans.

The fear is that the Social Democrats would lose their profile in any coalition with Merkel - particularly as following Sunday's election the CDU is by far the most powerful party in parliament.

Her coalition partner until now, the Free Democrats (FDP) performed so badly during the past four years in her government that their voters deserted them at the polls and they failed to even clear the five percent hurdle necessary to get into parliament.

This has left the CDU keen to form a coalition with the SPD - a so-called grand coalition, like the one which brought Merkel to power the first time around in 2005. The CDU is hoping for preliminary talks to take place in the coming week.

More than half of Germans would like to see such a coalition - a figure that has been pretty steady since well before September 22nd's election.

A poll conducted for broadcaster ZDF showed 58 percent wanted to see the CDU and the SPD pair up to rule the country. Approval among Social Democrat members is even stronger, with 64 percent wanting to work with the conservatives.

A further 32 percent said they wanted to see Merkel and the Greens work together.

Just 22 percent want the Linke, the SPD and the Greens to put a government together.

But the initial lack of enthusiasm from the Social Democrats has been taken by the far-left Linke as a positive sign that the idea of forming a coalition without the CDU - could work. This would require the Greens and the Social Democrats to ignore their previous rejection of working with the Linke.

Story continues below…

Linke leader Bernd Riexinger told the Rhein-Zeitung newspaper on Friday, "The longer the stalemate lasts, the greater the pressure becomes that for at least red-red-green preliminary talks."

The Linke came out of the election as the third strongest party in Germany with 8.6 percent of the vote. This was behind the CDU which won 41.5 percent, and the Social Democrats who were on 26 percent. But the Linke were marginally ahead of the Greens who managed just 8.4 percent.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
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
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd