German SPD votes in favor of 'grand coalition' with Merkel

Mar 06, 2018, 02:03
German SPD votes in favor of 'grand coalition' with Merkel

It is not the result she would have wanted when she began her election campaign a year ago - she had to surrender control of key government departments including the powerful finance ministry to get a deal.

"Now to work", tweeted Peter Altmaier of Ms Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU), who is set to become economy minister.

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) have bought Chancellor Angela Merkel time with their vote to join her conservatives in another coalition, but she risks losing her long grip on power if she fails to balance the awkward allies' conflicting demands.

When the vote was counted on Sunday, 66.02-percent of the more than 450,000 SPD voting members approved the grand coalition, leaving only 33.98-percent opposed.

Ms Merkel will start what is nearly certainly her final term as chancellor weakened. French President Macron's ambitions to reform the EU can not be achieved without the efforts from Germany and a government in Berlin highlighting European policies.

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The CSU on Monday spoiled her election pledge to have a cabinet consisting of an equal number of men and women by announcing three male politicians to fill the transport, development and interior portfolios.

Members of Germany's Social Democratic Party have voted in favour of joining a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc.

To stop the SPD from leaving the coalition, Merkel must deliver on those points in the coalition deal that are most dear to the Social Democrats: healthcare reform and investment in education to meet the challenges of the digital age.

"What we're seeing and hearing every day is that Europe needs to step up and Germany needs to have a strong voice there along with France and other member states (of the European Union)", said Merkel during a brief statement to reporters. "France and Germany will work together on new initiatives in the coming weeks to bring the European project forward".

Merkel made the comments in her weekly podcast, published on March 3, in which she said that Germany and France have chose to place "more emphasis than in the past" on the proposal, and that both governments will "push on with the common corporation tax" idea.

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Wary of ceding further ground to the far-right Islamophobic outfit as voters turn away from traditional parties, Merkel's conservatives and the SPD have inserted a clause to review their cooperation in two years.

SPD's acting party Chairman Olaf Scholz said the coalition "gives us the strength for the process of renewal we are embarking upon".

The direction of her new government remains to be seen.

Fiercely opposed to her open-door refugee policy, Spahn has advocated a sharp conservative shift to coax back voters from the AfD. He is also widely seen as ambitious, with an eye on succeeding Merkel, though he says he supports her as chancellor for the full parliamentary period.

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