Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Merkel receives SDP backing for fourth term


Social Democratic Party parliamentary group leader Andrea Nahles smiles after talking to reporters yesterday at the SPD’s headquarters in Berlin, Germany.

Photo: AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday vowed to work with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) for the “good of Germany,” after the center-left party cleared the last hurdle in the way of the veteran leader’s fourth term by agreeing to join her new coalition.

Two in three of the SPD’s rank-and-file voting in a make-or-break referendum backed a new partnership with Merkel’s conservatives, heralding an end to the political stalemate that has plagued Europe’s biggest economy since inconclusive elections in September last year.

However, the chancellor, in power for 12 years, will go into her fourth term with far weaker cards than before, as she had to pay a high price to coax the reluctant SPD back into another loveless “grand coalition.”

Congratulating the SPD for its “clear result,” Merkel said using her Christian Democratic Union’s Twitter account that she was looking forward to “further cooperation for the good of our country.”

Stung by their worst post-war results, the SPD had initially ruled out another four years under Merkel’s shadow, but after Merkel’s attempt to cobble together a government with two smaller parties failed, the SPD relented.

Its leadership promised its more than 460,000 members the final say on any coalition deal.

“We now have clarity. The SPD will be in the next government,” SPD caretaker chairman Olaf Scholz said, adding that his party plans to send three male and three female ministers to the Cabinet.

European partners waiting impatiently for post-war Germany to end its longest stretch of coalition haggling heaved a sigh of relief.

French President Emmanuel Macron reacted by calling the SPD decision “good news for Europe.”

EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici praised the party for its “responsible and decisive vote” and said on Twitter that “Germany is now ready to engage for a stronger Europe.”

However, Merkel faces a far rockier road ahead than in the past four years.

Unlike in their previous partnership when Merkel’s conservatives and the SPD enjoyed a crushing majority, this time they now have only a slim 56 percent of seats in parliament.

Wary of ceding further ground to the far-right party Alternative for Germany, Merkel’s conservatives and the SPD have inserted a clause to review their cooperation in two years.

Dissenting voices in the SPD also promise to keep the long-time partners on their toes.

SPD youth chief Kevin Kuehnert, who ran an impassioned campaign against the planned coalition, expressed disappointment at the postal referendum result.

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