Tuesday

25th Sep 2018

Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks

  • Martin Schulz initially said he did not want to enter into another 'Grand Coalition' with Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats. (Photo: Parti Socialiste)

Pressure is increasing on Martin Schulz, leader of the German Social Democrats (SPD) to end the political stalemate in Germany and enter coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.

The SPD leader will meet the country's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, himself hailing from the SPD, on Thursday (23 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Steinmeier has been meeting party leaders following the collapse of coalition talks on Sunday between Merkel's political bloc, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens.

Merkel said she would prefer snap elections than leading a minority government following the Free Democrats walkout from coalition talks on Sunday night.

Schulz, who ran against Merkel in the general elections, first ruled out re-entering a grand-coalition with Merkel's CDU/CSU that left the SPD with its worst election result since the second world war.

The SPD initially wanted to return to opposition and try to rebuild its base.

"We do not want 'Austrian' conditions," SPD politician, Thorsten Schafer-Gumbel told ZDF. He said a minority government is possible, despite Merkel's reservations.

The SPD wanted to avoid a scenario where – as in Austria – a protracted Grand Coalition among the main parties leave them without strong characters of their own, and leads to the strengthening of political fringe parties.

The Grand Coalition has ruled Germany since the 2013 elections, as it did during Merkel's first term in office between 2005 and 2009.

But the pressure is growing on Schulz to end the political impasse that also puts eurozone and other EU reforms on hold.

New elections could also come too early for the SPD after the bruising results just a few weeks ago that left the party marred by infighting.

A poll on Wednesday put the SPD on 19.5 percent, already one point below its result in the September elections.

"I don't see any article in the constitution that stipulates there must be fresh elections if the leader of the FDP breaks off coalition talks," Achim Post, head of the SPD group in the North Rhine-Westphalia, was quoted in the Der Spiegel magazine.

"New elections are not the right way to go," Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung quoted SPD member Martin Rabanus.

The CDU is also courting the Social Democrats with offers such as pension reform.

Monday's decision by the SPD to rule out coalition talks now seems hasty, putting Schulz's leadership – who is up for re-election as head of the party on 7 December – in jeopardy.

Fresh elections would also raise the issue of Schulz's longer term future, as the SPD would likely choose another lead candidate. A Grand Coalition could be the way for Schulz to survive for now.

"The SPD is fully aware of its responsibility in the current difficult situation," Schulz told DPA news wire before meeting with Steinmeier on Thursday.

"I am sure that we will find a good solution for our country in the coming days and weeks," he added.

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

German coalition talks collapse

The liberal Free Democratic Party pulled out of coalition talks late Sunday night, saying it is 'better not to rule than to rule wrongly'. It is unclear what happens next.

Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP

Reinhard Buetikofer, who participated in the failed coalition talks, puts the blame squarely on FDP being 'afraid to govern', but hopes "there will be a lot of phone calls" to German politicians on the consequences of the deadlock in Berlin.

EU glyphosate vote hits German coalition

Chancellor Merkel disowned her agriculture minister over his decision to back a renewal of the weedkiller's licence as the issue pits Social Democrats against Christian Democrats ahead of coalition talks.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us