SPD votes on grand coalition

Since Tuesday members of Germany's SPD can vote on whether their party should take part in a new grand coalition government. The result of the vote will be known on March 4. While the party leadership hopes to get a green light for four more years as junior government partner young Social Democrats in particular oppose the move. Europe's press is watching the developments with interest - but not always with understanding.

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Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Stability of Germany and Europe at stake

Much more is riding on the decision by the SPD's 463,000 members than just the party's participation in a grand coalition, Hospodářské noviny writes:

“If the nay-sayers win, Germany will be flung into a crisis the likes of which it hasn't seen since the Second World War. Angela Merkel would have to form a minority government or new elections would be unavoidable. ... Many Social Democrats fear nevertheless that as part of a grand coalition the party could lose its ideological identity or even collapse. The SPD youth in particular wants to have its way, even at the expense of stability in Europe. That would be fatal for us. The SPD must continue to butress the German state, even if this is an unfair demand.”

Kurier (AT) /

An absurd form of direct democracy

Allowing party members to vote on whether a certain government is formed is nonsense, Kurier believes:

“Direct democracy becomes completely absurd when, as in Germany, it can/must be used to give the blessing for a coalition. The SPD under its gravedigger Martin Schulz resolved after a long, drawn-out process to go back into government - and the 463,723 party members are now being allowed to vote on whether this actually happens or not. And what about the nine million voters who gave the SPD their vote, perhaps to ensure that it would be in government? They're not allowed to have their say? But the opponents of the coalition recruited by Jusos [the youth organisation of the SPD] are? And this will decide the fate of the Federal Republic of Germany (in which, incidentally, plebiscites at the national level don't exist)?”