Monday, 22 October, 2018

German coalition deal no 'blank cheque' for Europe, conservative tells SPD

Leaders of the SPD announce the results of the internal referendum on joining a 'grand coalition' Leaders of the SPD announce the results of the internal referendum on joining a 'grand coalition' Credit John MacDougall AFP Getty
Glenn Montgomery | 06 March, 2018, 02:50

Spahn, a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) who does not shy away from criticising the chancellor, told the Deutschlandfunk public broadcaster:"The SPD must decide: either we rule together or some will try to play opposition within the government".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have formed a coalition government with the opposition Social Democrats.

The Social Democratic party (SPD) agreed at the weekend to form another "grand coalition" government with the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), nearly six months after the general elections in September.

Both Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left SPD had been weakened as voters angry about the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers in Germany since 2015 turned to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Germany's second biggest party, the Social Democrats (SPD), Sunday finally gave the all-clear to renew their partnership with Merkel's conservatives, ending a political impasse that had plagued the country since September's inconclusive election.

The newspaper Die Welt reported on Saturday that SPD member and Bundestag Vice President Thomas Opperman said the SPD should be more self-confident, cheeky and ready for conflict in the next coalition government.

SPD leaders, under pressure to revive their party after suffering their worst result in September's election since Germany became a federal republic in 1949, have vowed to fight the conservatives on major issues.

Merkel has shared power with the SPD in two of her previous three terms in office, from 2005-2009, and from 2013 until now.

The inclusion in the coalition deal of a clause that envisages a review of the new government's progress after two years is widely seen as giving the SPD an exit should it want one and has also fuelled a debate about the post-Merkel era.

SPD secretary general Lars Klingbeil said his party wants the government, expected to be in place this month, to make social issues its top priority.

According to the coalition agreement, the SPD administration must announce the ministers' names by March 12. Opponents of her liberal refugee policy have grown more outspoken, while the conservative wing of her party is seething at having lost control of the powerful finance ministry to the Social Democrats as part of the coalition deal.

"Criticism of the grand coalition remains", he tweeted after the ballot result."The SPD needs to be more like it has been in recent weeks and less like it has been in recent years - the Jusos will ensure this".

She added, "The new government has a lot of work ahead of it that needs to be started soon". Immigration is expected to be a key issue in this fall's state election in Bavaria, where Merkel's allies fear the fallout from her open-door policies.

Sueddeutsche daily noted that "she is the one who has made it clear that the CDU is now no longer without a successor for Merkel".

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