A postal vote among some 450,000 German Social Democratic Party (SPD) members has begun in order to get their approval for another ‘Grand Coalition’ led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Deadline for voting is 2 March with the result expected on 4 March.
SPD’s youth and left wings are fiercely opposed to another governing coalition with Merkel.
“We were against this coalition from the very beginning and it has a lot to do with the election result. The SPD and the Christian Democratic Union lost 14 percent of their votes. We don’t think that it is the task of these parties to form another coalition,” says Kevin Kühnert, leader of the youth wing of the SPD who is on a campaign tour across Germany.
“I don’t remember the last grand coalition as very stable. Instead it was unable to make decisions. The two parties kept blocking each other. Even projects that were written down in the coalition agreement were not implemented because the coalition partners couldn’t implement together. And now a few months later to say that now we will get a well-functioning government. No one has been able to explain to me how that will happen,” he claims.
If Kühnert is going to have a chance to clinch a win for the no side, then he needs the young members to vote overwhelmingly for his position. It is widely believed that older members will vote for the coalition, fearing instability that a no might bring. But Kühnert himself doesn’t give much for the stability argument.
A “no” vote would end the hopes of a new German government anytime soon, prompting new elections.
Recent polls show Social Democrats behind the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) for the first time. According to a survey be published by the Bild tabloid on Tuesday, 16 percent of respondents would vote for the far-right AfD if there was a new election, compared to 15.5 percent who would chose the SPD. The CDU of Chancellor Merkel would get 32 percent.
The opinion poll won’t make things any easier for the SPD members in choosing to endorse the coalition deal or reject it.
In a related development, Merkel has nominated Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the new party secretary of the CDU. The incumbent premier of the state of Saarland has been described to be “politically left, economically moderate and socio-politically right” – everybody’s darling, in other words. Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer , who is expected to resign her position as premier when she’s confirmed by party members, is seen as the anointed successor to Merkel.