Odds of German minority government shorten as Social Democrats begin grand coalition vote

SPD coalition vote
Photo: Bloomberg
SPD coalition vote
Photo: Bloomberg

The deeply divided membership of the Social Democrats start casting postal votes today on whether to approve a grand coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU.

Last week, leader Martin Schulz resigned over SPD infighting, leaving interim leader Olaf Scholz and eventual leader Andrea Nahles to persuade their party to agree to the deal. However, given the turmoil in the SPD, leading conservatives are starting to urge chancellor Angela Merkel to opt for a minority government rather than her preference of calling new elections.

Under a Merkel minority government, every piece of legislation the conservatives want would need opposition support to pass. She could do a deal with the right-leaning parties over immigration and tax reform but then negotiate with the left-leaning parties over reducing CO2 emissions by 2025 or 2030. Despite this flexibility, this form of governing is unstable and unprecedented in post-war Germany.

Expect the SPD vote to go down to the wire. In the event of a no vote, expect intense lobbying from CDU senior figures for Merkel to form a minority government.

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