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1ST LEAD Last-ditch appeal to German Social Democrats to approve coalition By Martina Herzog and Carsten Hoffmann, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - A group of 40 Social Democrat (SPD) politicians from various wings of the party has issued a last-ditch appeal to their colleagues to vote Yes to reviving a grand coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s conservatives at a conference this weekend.

The appeal - seen by dpa on Friday - calls on the SPD delegates who meet in Bonn on Sunday to approve coalition negotiations with Merkel‘s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) allies to act "out of responsibility for Germany, Europe and the SPD."

The appeal comes amid tensions within the SPD, especially with the Jusos youth wing, which finds the preliminary document agreed to last week ahead of formal negotiations to be not socialist enough. They would like to see more taxes on the wealthy, a national health service without private provision, more action to combat poverty and a more generous migration policy.

Other opponents of reviving the coalition also fear the SPD‘s profile will be overshadowed by Merkel and her bloc. They would prefer to head the opposition to a minority Merkel government and focus on rejuvenating the party after its worst election result in September since 1949.

Friday‘s appeal was signed by two former leaders of the Jusos, former party chief Matthias Platzeck and former presidential candidate Gesine Schwan.

It came ahead of meetings by steering committees on Friday evening in the last two state-level parties - Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate - that have to decide how they will vote on Sunday.

So far four states representing almost 200 delegates have come out clearly in favour of launching coalition talks. Four have come out against, but they will send only around 45 delegates to the conference between them.

The remaining six state-level parties - representing around 320 delegates - do not plan to vote on the issue and will leave it up to delegates to decide for themselves, although some held consultations with grassroots members ahead of the special conference.

The youth wing‘s 80-90 delegates plan to vote against resuming coalition talks.

The SPD will probably want to avoid fresh elections as another opinion poll released Friday placed them on 20 per cent, even lower than their already poor September election result of 20.5 per cent.

Friday‘s Politbarometer by broadcaster ZDF marked a drop of 3 percentage points on last month.

A Forsa opinion poll on Thursday had the SPD on just 18 per cent.

The vast majority of people asked in a YouGov opinion poll commissioned by dpa and published on Friday see the SPD as the biggest losers in the preliminary coalition talks that concluded last Friday.


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