German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is expected to urge Social Democrats leader Martin Schulz to reconsider his opposition to forming a grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU when the two men meet for talks today. Steinmeier has been meeting with party leaders since the collapse of the so-called Jamaica coalition talks among the CDU/CSU, the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens on Sunday night. Following his talks yesterday with the FDP, who triggered the political crisis by walking out of the talks, it became clear that they are still opposed to joining a government with the Greens, mounting pressure on the SPD to avert fresh elections by coming to an agreement with the CDU to form a government.
While Merkel has voiced her preference for fresh elections rather than leading a minority government it is uncertain whether either the CDU or the SPD would fare any better than they did in September which was the worst election for both parties since 1949. In the wake of the SPD’s poor showing Schulz resolved to rebuild the grassroots of the party who were seen as punishing the leadership after years of coalition with the centre-right CDU. However, divisions are reportedly emerging between those support Schulz’s abstentionist policy and those who worry that another election so soon might leave the party in an even worse way afterwards. According to the Guardian newspaper, speculation is mounting in the German press that Schulz may face a leadership challenge at the SPD party conference which is due to take place on December 7, with Manuela Schwesig, a former minister for family, and Olaf Scholz, the mayor of Hamburg, being named as possible replacements.
The FDP walked out of talks on Sunday citing a lack of trust among the negotiating parties after they reached an impasse over the issues of migration and CO2 reductions.