Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

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. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us