Sunday, January 21

Sunday, January 21

GRAND OBSTACLES German Social Democrats to vote on grand coalition Following preliminary talks earlier this month, 600 SPD delegates will vote in Bonn today on whether to proceed with full coalition negotiations with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU). The SPD’s leadership has backed pursuing a renewal of the partnership that has governed Germany since

GRAND OBSTACLES

German Social Democrats to vote on grand coalition

SPD-CDU-germany

Photo: Filip Ćwik

Following preliminary talks earlier this month, 600 SPD delegates will vote in Bonn today on whether to proceed with full coalition negotiations with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU).

The SPD’s leadership has backed pursuing a renewal of the partnership that has governed Germany since 2013, arguing that it is the party’s only way to influence policy.

However, the party’s grassroots have made their displeasure known. The SPD’s Berlin branch voted against holding talks and the Jusos, the party’s student wing, has loudly voiced its disapproval. They contend that the CDU’s concessions are too little and that a stint in opposition could remedy a disastrous 2017 electoral performance.

Today’s result looks uncertain. A no vote could see Schulz resign his post and would dramatically increase the prospect of fresh elections; the outcome would likely be another fractured parliament, perhaps with an even higher vote for the far-right AfD. Even if the delegates approve talks with the CDU, the proposed coalition will have to be negotiated and then voted on by the SPD’s 450,000 members, meaning the grassroots could snuff out a grand coalition yet.

COMING TO KHARTOUM

American delegation visits Sudan to mull relationship’s future

sudan-president

Photo: DW/Kiswahili

Today, a US congressional delegation begins its three-day visit to Sudan.

The party aims to improve relations and exchange ideas on common political, economic and security interests. Topping the agenda of Sudanese Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Salih will be overturning his country’s status as a state that sponsors terrorism.

Included on America’s infamous list since 1993, Sudanese officials claim they have now made significant progress in combatting terrorism and that the country cannot take advantage of international development aid or debt relief until this status changes.

Having already lifted a range of sanctions related to the Darfur conflict, the Trump administration has indicated it would reconsider based on further improvements to human rights in Sudan. However, removing Sudan from the list would likely reduce the US’ leverage over Khartoum on said issues.

As such, it remains unclear exactly how much closer the nations are to normalising relations.

A FRACTURED UNION?

Polish PM meets with European Commission amidst strained relations

BELGIUM-EUROPE-DIPLOMACY-MEETING

Photo: AFP/ John Thys

Today, Mateusz Morawiecki meets with European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans. The visit comes as EU member states consider penalties for Poland’s infringement of European ‘rule of law’ standards regarding judicial and media reforms.

Poland’s recent cabinet reshuffle marks an attempt to reset two years of fraught relations with the EU. Warsaw is eager to avoid the restriction of its voting rights in both the European Council and ministerial-level meetings, which would hamper its ability to influence EU priorities and decisions.

Brussels looks to present a unified front against challenges to its authority; however, any effort to restrict Polish voting rights will be difficult–such an action requires unanimity and would be blocked by Hungary, a close ally of Warsaw. Still, Poland has offered no major concessions and risks being alienated from significant proposals regarding the Eurozone and the EU budget process.

Morawiecki’s charm offensive will therefore seek to delay the advancement of infringement proceedings in the short-term. Though penalties probably won’t be imposed, expect Brussels to remain firm against alleged Polish infringements and threats to European unity.