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Germany’s SPD at odds over coalition plan

Germany’s SPD at odds over coalition plan

dpa / AFP / File / Kay Nietfeld
Party leaders announced after a political dispute
Leading members of Germany’s Social Democrats voiced skepticism Sunday over a preliminary coalition agreement reached with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative, days after the hard-fought deal was hailed as a breakthrough. Berlin’s SPD Mayor Michael Mueller said it was “very critical” about entering into a new government with Merkel’s CDU / CSU bloc after all three parties slumped to their worst results in the last decades.
“The same coalition with the same policies is not the right answer,” the center-left politician told the Daily Press, calling for “further talks” to win more concessions on key SPD demands. Party Leaders on Friday announced after they had written off on a blueprint. In the 28-page document, the parties agreed to join France in a push to “strengthen and reform” the eurozone, to limit the influx of asylum seekers to Germany to around 200,000 a year, and to refrain from tax hikes. Aim Mueller lamented the SPD’s failure to secure a tax-for-rich or a restructuring of the country’s two-tier health care system – two major campaign pledges. Those concerned were echoed by the SPD’s Malu Dreyer, first of the Rhineland-Palatinate state, who also slammed the compromised to cap immigration. The migration stance outlined in the roadmap was “very difficult” for the SPD, she told the German newspaper group Funke Mediengruppe. – ‘No GroKo’ – Martin Schulz, who has promised to be a member of the board of directors. In a sign of the difficulties ahead, SPD delegates at a regional party conference in Saxony-Anhalt on Saturday. Spiegel news weekly said the non-binding vote was “hugely symbolic” coming just a day after the in-principle agreement “that Schulz is trying to sell a success”.

AFP / File / John MACDOUGALL
The resistance campaign against any grand coalition, known as “GroKo” in German, has adopted the hashtag #NoGroKo
The stakes will be higher next Saturday, when 600 party delegates will be asked to give the green light at a congress, followed by a final vote by more than 400,000 rank-and-file members. The SPD ‘s youth wing chief Kevin Kuehnert has written a report on his case against a new grand coalition, known as “GroKo” in German political shorthand.
Top conservative lawmaker Alexander Dobrindt of Merkel’s Bavarian CSU sister party urged Schulz to nip the potential revolt in the bud. “Martin Schulz must now show that the SPD can be a reliable coalition partner and get this brouhaha under control,” Dobrindt told the Bild am Sonntag daily. The SPD was initially 20.5 percent in the September ballot. But to train EU Parliament chief Schulz faced pressure to reconsider after Merkel’s efforts to forge a government with two smaller parties collapsed in November. Merkel, whose political life is on the line after 12 years in power, has welcomed the coalition blueprint as “a fresh start” for Germany and Europe. Commentators however have already described a possible repeat of the left-right alliance as a “coalition of losers”.

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