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SPD votes on Merkel talks

Germany
07.12.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Germany's SPD to vote on Merkel talks to end political crisis
Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) are considering a call from the centre-left party's leadership to launch talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and end the nation's political gridlock following September's election.
GALLERY
Berlin (dpa) - SPD leader Martin Schulz was due to speak to 600 delegates attending Thursday‘s party conference in Berlin at 12 pm (1100 GMT). The SPD has been divided between backing a repeat coalition with Merkel‘s conservatives or going into the opposition after the party suffered its worst result since 1949 in the September poll.
SPD leader Martin Schulz

"It‘s not just about the SPD," Schulz said in an interview with the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group ahead of what is likely to be a stormy party congress. "It‘s about how we meet our responsibilities for Germany and Europe."

The SPD has been the junior member of a coalition led by Merkel‘s Christian Democrats and their Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU) allies for eight of the 12 years the chancellor has been in office.

The SPD‘s three-day conference is also likely to represent a key test of Schulz‘s authority: Members are scheduled to vote later in the day on his performance as party president after he led the SPD into the September election trauma.

After vehemently ruling out a rerun of the current coalition, Schulz back-pedalled and expressed a willingness to discuss a coalition, spurred by Merkel‘s failure to build an alliance between CDU/CSU bloc, the environmental Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats.

The SPD congress is also set to consider whether the party might agree to another way of backing the chancellor in office by supporting a minority government headed by Merkel.

But after the collapse last month of Merkel‘s attempts to broker a three-way coalition with the Greens and the FDP, an SPD refusal to rejoin the CDU-CSU in talks could plunge the nation into early elections.

New elections could bring a worse result for SPD and the CDU/CSU than the parties saw in September.

The SPD‘s youth wing, Jusos, has proposed a motion calling on the conference to rule out a rerun of the current alliance with the CDU-CSU.

Jusos, which represents about 15 per cent of the total number of those attending the party conference, is calling for the SPD to back either a minority government or fresh elections.

With no clear candidate to head up an election campaign and after plunging to just 20.5 per cent of the vote in the September poll, the SPD could end up with an even worst result if an early poll was called to end the deadlock.

The question is how many of the other sceptical SPD members the Jusos wing can coax to vote against the party‘s leadership and back its motion.

 

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