Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Germany coalition deal on track despite grassroots rebellion

Julia Klockner GETTYJulia Klockner stood by Angela Merkel after last year's disastrous election
Kelvin Reese | 16 February, 2018, 06:13

An attempt to end bitter infighting among the German Social Democrats (SPD) with an immediate transfer of the leadership position from Martin Schulz to the current SPD parliamentary faction leader Andrea Nahles has met with resistance on Tuesday. The plan to quell internal strife with a fast leadership reshuffle now seems to have had the opposite effect, however, with critics questioning the legal basis for Nahles' elevation to interim leader prior to her formal nomination by the party leadership committee.

Her candidacy will be voted on by party members on April 22.

Tuesday's announcement caps off a turbulent week for the former SPD leader, after his party agreed a coalition deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) last Wednesday.

Against the backdrop of the leadership drama, SPD members will begin voting next week on whether to join a new coalition under Merkel. And members of the SPD could yet reject the coalition deal in a ballot whose results will be announced on 4 March. Many SPD rank and file members harbour serious misgivings about entering into a new government with Merkel again.

Scholz is widely expected to become finance minister and vice chancellor in the new government if the coalition agreement is approved.

Kevin Kuehnert, who leads the SPD's youth wing and is campaigning for members to vote against another tie-up with Merkel, welcomed the decision as he said it would enable the party to focus completely on the members' coalition ballot.

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US House passes budget deal, ending government shutdown
After the vote succeeded, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kept his word to move to open an immigration debate next week. US Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) has released a statement following his vote against the budget agreement.

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Malu Dreyer, regional prime minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, said: "The SPD can not remain leaderless".

Analysts said Mr Kühnert, who said he has been inspired by the campaign of Bernie Sanders in the U.S., did not yet have enough sway over the rump membership of the party to win the vote on the coalition.

In a cartoon published on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail. His supporters were also angered that the party would be working with an anti-immigration rival who was set to take control of the country's interior ministry.

The turmoil in the SPD can only distract from criticism of Merkel from within her own party after she handed the foreign and finance ministries to the SPD to secure the coalition deal.

Andrea Nahles, a plain-speaking 47-year-old former labor minister with a left-wing slant and strong oratory skills, will become Schulz's successor.

The SPD originally wanted to reinvent itself in opposition but reconsidered when Merkel's attempt to form an alliance with two smaller parties failed late past year.

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