German social democrats suggest coalition with Merkel and greens

Martin Schulz is encouraged by SPD grandees to seek an accommodation with the Christian Democrats and the Greens

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 23:  Martin Schulz (C), Chairman of the German Social Democrats (SPD), departs after meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Schloss Bellevue presidential palace over the future of the next German government on November 23, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. Following German federal elections last September Shulz had vowed that the SPD would not join the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) in another grand coalition, though the recent failure of coalition talks between the CDU/CSU, the Greens Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) is leading to increasing pressure, both from within the SPD and without, on Schulz to reconsider.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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Senior members of Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany have encouraged their party leader to join a so-called ‘Kenya’ coalition with chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in a bid to break the deadlock that has paralysed Europe’s largest country since a general election result in September that resulted in no party being able to form a stable government.

SPD politicians Gesine Schwan and Wolfgang Thierse sent an open letter to Mr Schulz in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper in which they suggested the party join a coalition with Ms Merkel’s party and the Greens – named after Kenya due to the parties’ colours making up the African country’s flag – which had initially been ruled out by Mr Schulz.

However, the breakdown over the weekend of talks between Ms Merkel, the Greens and the Free Democrats party (FDP) has led to members of the SPD demanding that their leader look again at the prospect of a ‘grand coalition’ – the CDU and SPD were in government together between 2013 and 2017, but after losing 40 seats and 5% of the vote in the September election Mr Schulz had indicated he wouldn’t join another union with Mrs Merkel’s party.

The two SPD grandees reject the other options open to the SPD: standing in new elections, which could cost too much to properly contest; entering a grand coalition with the CDU, which would see the party’s influence shrink further; supporting a minority coalition government of the CDU and the Greens, which reinforce the SPD’s irrelevance; or forming a minority coalition government with the hard-left Links party and the Greens, which would have little chance of survival.

Instead, the pair recommend that the SPD joins a government with the CDU and Greens; the coalition would command 466 seats out of the 709 seats in the Bundestag, a crushing majority over a fractured opposition composed of parties of both the left and far-right.

But the decision may have been taken out of Mr Schulz’s hands, as chancellor Merkel has already indicated that she thinks that “new elections are the better way” forward for the country, rather than endless horse-trading over how to form a minority administration. A majority of Germans agree with her, according to a Statista opinion poll on Monday.