Merkel’s hopes for a coalition hang in the balance

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19 Jan, 2018

Merkel’s hopes for a coalition hang in the balance

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hopes of forming another grand coalition with her former political partners hang in the balance, with 600 SDP delegates set to meet this Sunday to vote on the matter.

Led by Merkel, the CDU/CSU party’s victory in the 2017 German federal elections came at a heavy price. Indeed, the Christian Democrats - along with their sister party, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria -  claimed just 33% of the German vote in 2017, its lowest share since the Bundestag began in 1949.

Furthermore, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) - which had formed part of the coalition Government with the CDU/CSU prior to the elections - also suffered an under-par election campaign with just over 20% of the shared vote, its worst performance since World War Two.

Indeed, the usual status quo in the 2017 German elections is no more. With no party winning an outright majority, Europe’s biggest economy was plunged into a state of political uncertainty with Merkel’s CDU/CSU party trying to form a coalition.

After several preliminary talks, the SPD will decide this weekend whether or not to run yet another coalition with the CDU/CSU. Leaders of the SPD expect the vote to be a tight one, with young party activists leading a campaign to shun political compromises.

If they vote against a coalition, the country could plunge into further political volatility with another repeat election, whilst Merkel’s ability to run a fourth term will also come into serious doubt.

If a 'no' vote succeeds, another option to avoid a repeat election could be running a minority government, something which has not yet been tested in the 69-year history of the federal republic.

A opposed to a coalition, a minority government would be supported by other parties, and with just 246 seats in the 709-member lower house, Merkel’s bloc would rely on shifting majorities in order to pass legislation.

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