German SPD vote crucial for Merkel’s grand coalition

The world is watching the German SPD vote results this weekend to see whether the grand coalition deal agreed last month between the Social Democrats (SPD) and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) will go ahead as planned.

It is for the first time in Germany that a party asks all its members to vote on a decision to get into a coalition and the move has sparked some controversy, with observers saying it allows one party to decide on the future of the whole country.

Over 400,000 SPD members have until Thursday December 12 to cast their votes and the results are expected to be announced on Saturday December 14.

“The Social Democrats knew from the very beginning that their members will not like a grand coalition,” Andreas Krautscheid, a member of the board of the Association of German Banks, told a conference on Germany’s elections organised by British Influence in London.

“There is this fear that Angela Merkel is eating everyone.”

The last time the SPD was in a coalition with the CDU, it recorded the worst election results since World War II, losing a third of its voters in the September 2009 elections.

But Krautscheid forecast that the coalition agreement would pass, as the SDP leadership advertised it intensely to its members, organising 32 regional conferences to persuade the members to support it.

He expects a government will be formed on December 17 or 18, nearly three months after the elections.

Stefan Altenschmidt, a partner at legal advice firm Luther, believes Merkel will remain “the leading politician in Germany” and this means a lot of policies will remain the same.

“I think a grand coalition will mean stability for the next four years in Germany, but also more regulation,” he said.

But the coalition’s economic reforms, many of which mean more regulation and bigger expenditure, do not bode well for businesses in Germany for the long term, Altenschmidt warned.

@AntoniaOprita

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