SPD leaders expect to clear coalition deal hurdle with Merkel’s conservatives

SPD leaders expect to clear coalition deal hurdle with Merkel's conservatives
Photo: DPA
Leaders of Germany's Social Democrats voiced confidence that members will approve a coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's party in a crunch vote that closes Friday.

Some 460,000 members of the SPD are holding a referendum on whether to back a hard-fought accord for a government with the conservatives.

The results to be announced on Sunday morning could either end a political stalemate in the country five months after inconclusive elections, or sink it into deeper crisis.

In an interview with German broadcaster RBB-Inforadio, the party's general secretary Lars Klingbeil said he expected that “we will get a 'yes' on Sunday'”.

Hours before the postal vote closed on Friday, another leading member of the SPD warned the rank-and-file against torpedoing the deal.

“It would be bad for Europe, Germany and the SPD,” Stephan Weil told Welt daily, adding that it would open up a “period of political instability”.

The make-or-break vote for Germany's next government will essentially also determine Chancellor Angela Merkel's political future.

If the yes-sayers prevail, Merkel would begin her fourth term in mid-March.

But if the SPD rejects the deal, Europe's biggest economy probably faces snap elections that could hasten an end to Merkel's leadership after 12 years in power.