BERLIN – The leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) on Thursday will ask for a mandate at the party’s federal conference that will debate whether it is appropriate to support a new minority government of Angela Merkel or even reissue the grand coalition.
The SPD federal party conference, held in Berlin between Thursday and Saturday, begins with all eyes on the vote of Martin Schulz as president of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the leadership’s proposal to open a constructive dialogue with Merkel’s conservative bloc.
The SPD leadership did not want to rule out another grand coalition, although there are movements in the party, such as the Social Democratic Youth, which are opposed to even considering that option and want dialogue only on a possible external support to a minority government of Merkel.
Schulz discarded the grand coalition both in his election campaign and on election night, when it was clear that his party obtained the worst results in its history, and he then reiterated in the following weeks his rejection, when Merkel failed in her attempt to form a government with the Liberal and Green parties.
German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s call for reflection to avoid new elections and the pressures from different European leaders, such as French president Emmanuel Macron, forced Schulz to reconsider his refusal and open up to dialogue.
The proposed resolution of the party’s leadership to be presented at the SPD congress ruled out that an agreement with Merkel could mean more of the same and summarized the essential points for the Social Democrats, beginning with a “democratic, solidary and social Europe.”
A former president of the European Parliament, Schulz was elected president of the SPD in March with 100 percent of the votes in an extraordinary convention of the party, which deposited all its confidence in him, in the hope of contesting Merkel’s chancellery.
Weeks earlier he had been designated as the candidate for the elections and first polls placed the SPD tied with Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
When the elections were held on Sept. 24, the so-called “Schulz effect” had disappeared both in the polls and in the ballot boxes, as the SPD had been defeated by Merkel’s conservatives in three consecutive regional elections.