German SPD leader to ask members to back coalition

Source:Reuters Published: 2017/12/7 22:53:40

Talks with Merkel could take weeks to complete

The leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) was seeking Thursday to convince his reluctant party that it has a duty to discuss forming a government under conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, for the sake of German and European stability.

Germany, Europe's political and economic powerhouse, has been struggling to build a new government since a September 24 national election in which Merkel's conservative bloc and the SPD both lost support, while the anti-immigrant AfD party surged into parliament, complicating the potential coalition combinations.

Merkel, her own political future on the line after 12 years at the helm, has made overtures to the center-left SPD - her partner in government over the past four years - after her bid to form a coalition with two smaller parties failed.

SPD leader Martin Schulz, who initially said the party would go into opposition after seeing its time in the last Merkel-led "grand coalition" rewarded with bruising losses at the polls, must now convince his party to reverse that decision.

He will ask party members for their support to start talks with Merkel's conservatives next week, although negotiations are expected to last well into the New Year.

Schulz is due to speak at noon and members are then set to debate motions on what kind of negotiating mandate the party should have for the talks, with many expected to demand a high price in return for supporting Merkel.

"We don't know if this coalition will happen. One thing is certain - we can't just carry on as before,"SPD parliamentary leader Andrea Nahles, told the Bild newspaper. "There are good reasons against and some in favor."

If Schulz fails to get support to discuss continuing the grand coalition, then the whole leadership of the SPD would be up for debate, Carsten Schneider, party whip in parliament, told German radio.

Posted in: EUROPE

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