The German Social Democrats (SPD) have voted in favour of forming another grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), at a party conference in Bonn on Sunday.
The move was approved by a show of hands with 362 votes in favour versus 279 against. The result comes as good news for the Conservative Chancellor, as it marks what looks like the beginning of the end of the political uncertainty that has reigned in the country since last September’s parliamentary elections.
Merkel said she “welcomed” Sunday evening’s result, while noting “that many questions still need to be resolved.” The first round of discussions between the parties will start on Monday.
In his speech, before the vote on Sunday, SPD leader Martin Schulz defended the proposed alliance, calling it a “historic political change [and] a new dawn for Europe.
“The republic is watching us, and I know that people all across Europe are watching the SPD today. We can defeat the wave of right-wing that vicotries in Europe by forming a stable government with a social-democratic profile,” he said.
However, there is strong opposition to the grand coalition within the SPD. These activists, who fall under the #NoGroKo (No grand coalition) banner of the party’s youth leader, Kevin Kühnert, believe that too many concessions were made to the CDU during the preliminary talks in January, in the areas of taxation, health and immigration.
“The grand coalition is not a choice. Every time we say we do not want to, but we have to. It is an infinite loop in which we have been for years and must be broken,” Kühnert said during his speech at the conference.