Published: Mon, March 05, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Merkel says looks forward to continue working with SPD

Merkel says looks forward to continue working with SPD

Members of the Social Democrat Party voted in favour of joining a coalition, clearing the last major hurdle to forming a new government.

Merkel's conservatives - her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) allies - and the SPD are both still bruised after suffering from the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in last year's election. 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.

"We now have clarity: the SPD will join the next German government", Scholz said.

The decision ends nearly six months of uncertainty in German politics, the longest the country has been without a government in its postwar history.

Merkel has shared power with the SPD in two of her previous three terms in office, from 2005-2009, and from 2013 until now.

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 September's inconclusive elections.

On Twitter, Mrs Merkel wrote: "I look forward to working with the SPD again for the good of our country".

The SPD initially vowed to rebuild in opposition, only agreeing to talks on a return to its loveless marriage with Merkel after her negotiations with two smaller parties collapsed in November, plunging Germany into political uncertainty.

European partners waiting impatiently for Germany to end its longest stretch of coalition haggling since the end of the war heaved a sigh of relief, with French President Emmanuel Macron calling the SPD decision "good news for Europe".

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Scholz declined to comment on reports that he would be finance minister, saying only that the SPD would appoint three men and three women to the federal cabinet. For solidarity in Germany and EU!"Merkel is expected to launch her fourth government by mid-March".

Kevin Kuehnert, head of the SPD's youth wing, said he was disappointed but that the "Jusos" (youth wing) would keep up their criticism, signaling that, after bringing in a flood of new members, they would be a thorn in the leadership's side.

"Criticism of the grand coalition remains".

"In 2021 at the latest, they'll pay the price", the party tweeted. "The SPD needs to be more like it has been in recent weeks and less like it has been in recent years - the Jusos will ensure this".

A poll published on Sunday showed the SPD falling one percentage point to 16 percent, its lowest ever reading in the Emnid survey.

Some within the Social Democratic Party, particularly on the left, had argued that the party wouldn't benefit from propping up Merkel for another term.

"While the United States are starting a trade war and China is challenge our industrial leadership, we have been unnecessarily self-absorbed", engineering trade union VDMA's managing director Thilo Brodtmann said.

Ralf Stegner, current leader of the SPD in Schleswig-Holstein, told local TV Phoenix that the vote is a good government basis, and the 33 plus percent who voted against the Grand Coalition would be a reminder.

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