German newspaper registers dog to vote in SPD coalition ballot

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By Emma Beswick
German newspaper registers dog to vote in SPD coalition ballot
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Germans who are part of the country's Social Democratic Party (SPD) began casting their postal votes on Tuesday to decide whether to enter another coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Over 463,000 members were set to decide if they are for or against the Social Democratic leadership thrashed out with Merkel's conservatives earlier this month.

The party has seen many citizens sign up to have a say in their country's future, one of whom has a wetter nose than the rest of the voters.

German tabloid Bild, the country's most-read newspaper, signed Lima the dog up for the SPD using the party's online tool and her owner's email and postal address.

In an article on the subject, the paper raised the question: “Is manipulation possible?"

Going by the name "Lima B" and with her age entered in dog years, the canine was accepted as a party member after undergoing a short check based on data entered in the online form, said Bild.

Ralf Stegner, SPD vice chairman, reacted to the article on Twitter: “This is an attempt to make a farce out of strong internal party democracy, which others parties could use themselves.”

"We're checking to see if we can cancel the membership, as it's obviously been created with the intent to deceive," said an SPD spokesman on Tuesday, adding it was clearly a "fake membership".

Bild's article highlights a debate currently bubbling in Germany concerning the risks around the SPD's membership approval vote.

Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc recently voiced strong criticism of the Social Democrats' actions.

"We have more than 60 million eligible voters. The fact that the SPD members have the last word in forming a government raises the question of whether we are dealing with a first- and second-class right to vote," said party Vice President Julia Klöckner.

Results from the vote are expected on March 4 and a rejection of a ‘GroKo’ with Merkel's conservatives by SPD members could lead to another round of elections.