The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) has told party members that they may have to grin and bear a coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives to form a government. The centre-left SPD suffered a crushing defeat in September’s election.
Newly re-elected SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel told the party congress in Leipzig: “The party was unable to convince voters on its key competence, which is social justice.”
Gabriel continued, “This coalition, should it become a reality and be approved by our members, will be a limited coalition of sober rationality. Nothing more, nothing less.”
There has been discontent among the SPD ranks at the prospect of becoming Merkel’s junior coalition partners again for the second time in a decade.
When the coalition talks finally produce a framework for government, SPD members will have the last say on whether the party signs up to it – in a postal vote to be held in late November or early December.
Merkel’s conservatives have already rejected tax increases and joint-area euro bonds. But the SPD is holding firm on several demands that it calls “non-negotiable”, including a minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour and equal pay for men and women.