Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

German SPD leader invokes Europe to sell coalition deal with Merkel

German SPD leader invokes Europe to sell coalition deal with Merkel

The SDP's former leader said the coalition agreement was "70 percent" Social Democratic policy and encouraged party members to bring "the personnel debate to an end" with his resignation and concentrate on passing the deal. "It is clear, unfortunately, that the public's regard for my work meant absolutely nothing to the new SPD leadership".

Under a grand coalition agreement, Olaf Scholz, the popular mayor of Hamburg, is set to take on the powerful role of finance minister. The far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the Bundestag for the first time.

Similarly, the SPD regional branch in Schleswig-Holstein urged the party leadership not to nominate Nahles as leader just yet. SPD members will vote on the coalition deal next month - the result is expected on 4 March. "I am surprised that Andrea Nahles wants to take over the leadership immediately, if only in the interim", Harald Baumann-Hasske, Chairman of the Working Group Social Democratic Lawyers, told the newspaper "Welt".

The SPD has agreed on a blueprint for coalition government with Ms Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian CSU allies. A "no" vote would likely trigger a new general election. He would follow eight years of Wolfgang Schäuble, who dominated Europe's policy response to the eurozone debt crisis, forcing eurozone countries, which received global bailout loans, to enact significant budget cuts and other tough austerity measures.

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The party has been forced to act swiftly to fill the vacancy left by Schulz as it prepares for a make-or-break vote by the more than 460,000 members on whether to accept or reject the coalition deal with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc.

Outgoing German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Wednesday he has apologized to fellow Social Democrat Martin Schulz for harshly criticizing him. Schulz's resignation, however, does not mean he will leave the party, and he can take a ministerial post if the government is actually formed.

Andrea Nahles also said she would fight for the ruling coalition with the conservatives of Angela Merkel.

The coalition deal envisages stronger Franco-German cooperation, allocating budget funds for economic stabilization in Europe, increased German contributions to the EU budget, and transforming the ESM bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund.

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