Grand coalition: good for Germany, good for Europe?
The SPD and the CDU/CSU will once again negotiate the possibility of a grand coalition. 56 percent of SPD party conference participants voted in favour - against the opposition of many party members who reject the idea of forming another ruling coalition with Merkel's conservatives. Europe's press asks whether the decision is cause for relief.
SPD shoulders historic responsibility
The SPD has shown its commitment to a European Germany, philosopher and Germanist Angelo Bolaffi writes in La Repubblica:
“Thomas Mann also hoped for such a European Germany in the darkest hours of World War II, when the Old Continent risked becoming a German Europe. ... Germany is aware of its special responsibility to ensure that the threads of the European narrative are brought together again where the economic crisis and mass immigration tore them apart. ... The knowledge that Europe's future prospects must not be wasted has prompted the SPD to take the painful step of setting aside its reservations about the grand coalition. A refusal would have plunged the party into chaos, created a mood similar to that under the Weimar Republic in the country and paralysed Europe in the process.”
Merkel must make concessions now
La Vanguardia outlines the dilemma the SPD delegates faced on Sunday:
“The question posed yesterday was whether it is better for the SPD to risk losing more support in the medium term as a result of being in government, or to renounce forming part of the executive and risk obtaining even worse results in new elections. ... The delegates opted for the former. ... Now the ball is in Merkel's court. Clearly she'll have to give the SPD an ace - among other things because once an agreement has been reached Schulz will have to let his party's 440,000 members vote on it. That includes the 70,000 members of the SPD's youth branch who reject the alliance. But no matter what happens, and despite the internal divide, it's very unlikely that the party will break up.”
Luckily the self-discovery trip ends here
The decision not to hold new elections is a decision against allowing the AfD to achieve another victory, the Salzburger Nachrichten comments:
“If the SPD had insisted on its self-discovery trip on Sunday, shirking its responsibility and ushering in new elections in the process, the voters would have punished it even more than they did in September. And together with their increasingly tarnished shining beacon Martin Schulz they would have had to sit back and watch as the AfD, whose members regularly draw attention to themselves with racist, anti-Semitic and nationalist statements, gained even more support. ... A party that prides itself on its active participation in political life can't afford such recklessness. That's why the SPD has now taken a decision that serves the country more than it serves itself.”
Condemning Germany to more of the same
This is certainly not the way for Germany to get the renewal it so urgently needs, complains the conservative British MEP Daniel Hannan in The Daily Telegraph:
“It is not healthy, in any country, for most of the parties to be in office most of the time. In Germany, the two big parties have shared power for eight of the past 12 years, propping each other up like two exhausted boxers after eight rounds. ... Supporters of that arrangement call it 'consensual' and 'moderate' and 'secure'. Again, though, these are all synonyms for 'more of the same'. ... Stability is the last thing Germany needs.”