GERMAN Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz said yesterday that his party is considering backtracking on its pledge not to enter another “grand coalition” with Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, with internal discussions due to be held next week.
After his party’s disastrous result in the September 24 election, Mr Schultz had ruled out jumping back into bed with Ms Merkel. Much of the blame for its loss of 40 seats and one-fifth of its vote has been pinned on the past four years of coalition government.
Chancellor Merkel is short of options. After talks broke down with the neoliberal Free Democratic and Green parties she said she’d prefer another election to ruling as a minority government.
But, following an appeal from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Mr Schulz agreed to meet Ms Merkel and Horst Seehofer, leader of her Bavarian sister party, on Thursday night for talks.
Mr Schulz told reporters yesterday that he would discuss all options, including selling off his party’s very recently acquired principles on a coalition, with SDP leaders on Monday.
Noting that his party and Ms Merkel’s bloc continue to govern as a caretaker government, he said: “We have no time pressure” and would “not rule out any options.”
Mr Schulz denied a report in the Bild newspaper that the social democrats had already capitulated.
He said that the SPD leadership’s decisions early in the week would be presented to other party members during a meeting on Thursday and Friday for approval.
Should it come to coalition negotiations, Mr Schulz indicated he would push for the new government to become even more engaged at the European level, including standing behind French President Emmanuel Macron’s push for further integration in the European Union.
“Berlin cannot perpetually answer suggestions from the French president with a No,” he said. “Germany must resume being a strong pro-European nation and not stay on the sidelines.”