Ger­many mulls a grand coali­tion

Ger­many ur­gently needs a pre­dictable and re­li­able gov­ern­ment. A grand coali­tion could be an op­tion.

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

Mem­bers of Ger­many’s So­cial Democrats ( SPD) will likely ap­prove a re­newed coali­tion with Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives if party lead­ers present a con­vinc­ing pro­posal, a mem­ber of the party’s executive lead­er­ship said on Satur­day.

Niels An­nen of the SPD, in an in­ter­view with the Pas­sauer Neue Presse news­pa­per, called for quick ac­tion to form a new Ger­man gov­ern­ment given a range of crises around the world, and said a “grand coali­tion” was an op­tion that could not be ex­cluded.

SPD leader Martin Schulz on Fri­day agreed to hold talks with Merkel about re­viv­ing their out­go­ing coali­tion gov­ern­ment, but said no de­ci­sions had been made and party mem­bers would have the fi­nal say on any deal. But he sug­gested that gov­ern­ing could help the SPD achieve its po­lit­i­cal aims and told the party’s youth wing - which re­jected an­other grand coali­tion at a party con­fer­ence - that he ex­pected their loy­alty and “con­struc­tive co­op­er­a­tion.”

An­nen said the SPD needed to hear from “the failed chan­cel­lor” about how she en­vi­sioned the fu­ture gov­ern­ment be­fore agree­ing to an­other four-year tie-up with con­ser­va­tives.

The cen­ter-left SPD had vowed to go into op­po­si­tion after suf­fer­ing its worst re­sult in 70 years in Septem­ber’s elec­tion, but came under in­tense pres­sure, in­clud­ing by Ger­man Pres­i­dent Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier, to re­think its po­si­tion and help avert a dis­rup­tive re­peat poll in Europe’s largest econ­omy.

Schulz said party lead­ers agreed to talks out of a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to Ger­many and Europe after Merkel’s at­tempt to form a gov­ern­ment with two smaller par­ties col- lapsed on Sun­day. “Ger­many ur­gently needs a pre­dictable and re­li­able gov­ern­ment. A grand coali­tion could be an op­tion and we should not ex­clude it,” An­nen told the news­pa­per, adding that the SPD was fo­cused on “what is good for the coun­try.”

He wel­comed plans to take any coali­tion agree­ment to mem­bers for a vote, and said the party should con­tinue its re­struc­tur­ing ef­forts after the Septem­ber elec­tion set­back.

“I‘m cer­tain, if the SPD lead­er­ship makes a con­vinc­ing pro­posal, it will be able to con­vince the mem­ber­ship,” he said. An­nen cited cit­i­zens’ in­sur­ance and bet­ter pro­tec­tion for ren­ters as issues to hash out with con­ser­va­tives.

SPD deputy leader Ralf Steg­ner told the Funke news­pa­per group that Schulz would re­tain his lead­er­ship role, say­ing he con­tin­ued to en­joy strong sup­port within the party.

“There is ab­so­lutely no doubt that Martin Schulz will be re-elected as party chair­man with a good re­sult,” he said. Mean­while, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said on Satur­day she aimed to get a gov­ern­ment in place as quickly as pos­si­ble after she was left scram­bling to find a way to govern when three­way coali­tion talks col­lapsed last Sun­day.

“Europe needs a strong Ger­many, it is de­sir­able to get a gov­ern­ment in place quickly,” Merkel told a party meet­ing, adding, how­ever, that her act­ing gov­ern­ment was able to carry on day to day business.

She added she was pre­pared to talk to the SPD after the cen­ter-left party re­versed an ear­lier de­ci­sion and said it was pre­pared to talk to Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives, but she stressed any talks should be based on mu­tual re­spect.

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