Bavaria boss backs SPD tie-up as consensus grows for German grand coalition

Saul Bowman
November 28, 2017

Speaking at the headquarters of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Berlin, Dr Merkel lobbied for the reluctant SPD to renew an alliance.

Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) has softened its stance on a potential coalition with Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc; Angela Merkel's allies have welcomed the decision but are facing a long list of demands which the SPD wants to implement in return for keeping Merkel in power.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected new elections and wanted to form a new government quickly, as a effect of the failed government coalition talks with the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens, reports IANS. As the back-and-forth with the SPD gets underway, Merkel, who is scheduled to brief the media later on Monday, made it clear that her coalition partner would have to support a balanced budget and broadly pro-business policies. The party's plans for income tax reform would "relieve lower- and middle-income families" and impose "significantly higher" taxes on large assets.

Both the CDU/CSU and the SPD were severely weakened in September's poll and many in the SPD have blamed their poor showing on the party's membership of the previous coalition. Merkel also cited conflicts in the Middle East, tensions with Russian Federation and relations with the USA as factors that required a Germany "capable of acting".

"There shouldn't be a grand coalition at any price".

Perhaps Merkel's optimism that a coalition could still be salvaged from the September election was due to a change in tune from the SPD.

"We'll see what comes out of the talks with the other parties, but you can't expect the SPD to just jump straight into a grand coalition", Ralf Stegner, a deputy SPD leader, said in an interview Monday with ARD television.

"An alliance of the conservatives and SPD is the best option for Germany - better, anyway than a coalition with the Free Democrats and Greens, new elections or a minority government", Horst Seehofer, head of Bavaria's CSU, told Bild am Sonntag.

Under intense pressure to preserve stability and avoid new elections, the SPD reversed its position and agreed to talk to Merkel, raising the prospect of a new grand coalition, which has ruled for the last four years, or a minority government. "The SPD is deeply convinced there should be discussions", Hubertus Heil, the party's general secretary, told reporters Friday.

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