Deals, Concessions in Strive at Coalition Between German CDU and SPD

Chancellor Angela Merkel faces further challenges in securing the second "grand coalition" that would ensure her continued governance. Photo: Alexander.kurz for Flickr.

Chancellor Angela Merkel faces further challenges in securing the second “grand coalition” that would ensure her continued governance. Photo: Alexander.kurz for Flickr.

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has reached a coalition agreement with their opposition party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The CDU came short of reaching absolute majority in parliament at the last elections on September 22, and thus were forced to consider a coalition.

Their previous partners, the Free Democrats Party (FDP), narrowly failed to cross the 5% threshold for entering parliament, and The Greens declined the coalition despite agreements between the two parties to gradually close all nuclear plants by 2022. This leaves the CDU to potentially form an alliance with the SPD, the other major German party, which would become the second “grand coalition” in a decade.

In order to conclude the agreement, the CDU is relying on the SDP’s 474,000 members’ signatures, requiring Merkel to make important concessions to guarantee a third term as a chancellor.

Amongst these concessions, the SPD has managed to win one of its key demands for a national minimum wage of 8.50€, the equivalent of £7.11 and US $11.55, which will be implemented in 2015.

The two parties have also agreed on increasing electricity from renewable sources up to 40-45% by 2025, lowering the pension age from 67 to 63 for workers who contributed for at least 45 years, and allowing dual citizenship to children born in Germany after 1990 to foreign parents. This will particularly concern the Turkish community, an important segment of the SPD’s voters.

The CDU has managed to remain dominant during negotiations on public finances: it has rejected the SPD’s demand to increase taxes on the rich, and there will be no further borrowing after 2015. However, the two parties have agreed on policies to increase funding for education reforms, research and development, and transport. This has been received with serious criticism from conservatives, who claim additional public spending will further aggravate the regulation craze.

The outcomes of the negotiations prove to be considerable victories for the SPD, and are likely to convince many SPD members to vote “yes,” affirms Andrea Nahles, the SDP general secretary.

However, senior SPD MP Karl Lauterbach announced his party had “succeeded on the most important points,” but would have to overcome “many reservations” among members, as both parties still disagree on many minor policy areas.

The two parties overcame fewer obstacles concerning their opposition on the mutualisation of the eurozone countries’ debt. Their ongoing reluctance to cooperate in current European negotiations such as Turkey’s membership will disappoint those who were hoping for a more proactive German leadership.

An advantage of the coalition for Merkel’s party will be that tough measures on Europe will be decided on in private within the coalition, rather than through confrontation with other parties through debate and division within the Bundestag. Given their similar stances on Europe, this will most certainly be of advantage to Merkel’s party– a coalition of their voices on European issues, such as their reluctance to cooperate with renegotiations concerning the place of Britain in Europe, as requested by David Cameron’s government.

If the coalition were to pass, Angela Merkel would be voted in on December 17, making the new government official on the same day.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has reached a coalition agreement with their opposition party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The CDU came short of reaching absolute majority in parliament at the last elections on September 22, and thus were forced to consider a coalition. In order to conclude the agreement, the CDU is relying on the SDP’s 474,000 members’ signatures, requiring Merkel to make important concessions to guarantee a third term as a chancellor. Amongst these concessions, the SPD has managed to win one of its key demands for a national minimum wage of 8.50€, the equivalent of £7.11 and US $11.55, which will be implemented in 2015. Read more about the new German coalition Government. […]

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