Germany's SPD votes for coalition talks with Union
08 Dec 2017, 01:09 ( 9 days ago)
Germany's SPD Party on Thursday voted to enter into exploratory talks for the formation of a new government coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Conservatives Union.
About 600 SPD members on Thursday gathered for the federal party congress and voted with a large majority by raising their arms to enter exploratory talks that could eventually end Germany's political crisis.
The SPD motion said the "open-ended" talks will start next week and would lead to three options: a new grand coalition, the acceptance of a minority government led by Merkel, or snap elections if no government can be formed.
SPD Chairman Martin Schulz called for talks with the Union before the motion was submitted to the congress for vote.
"We do not have to rule at all costs. But we must not want to reign at any cost," he said in his speech.
SPD's stance is of great importance after the so-called "Jamaica coalition" talks between the Union, the Free Democratic Party and the Greens failed. Merkel is facing the worst political crisis as no new government could be formed for the time being since the Sept. 24 German federal elections.
Suffering the lowest vote rates since 1949, SPD had repeatedly ruled out a grand coalition again with the Union after the current one, but it faced increasing pressure from the public after the collapse of the Jamaica coalition exploratory talks last month.
The motion that delegates voted for stipulates several demands to be put to the Conservatives Union, which is comprised with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU), including stricter climate targets, an abolition of private health insurance and a reform to combat poverty among pensioners.
The motion also includes a demand of ending a ban on some family reunions of asylum seekers, which is clearly opposed by CSU.
Despite the approval, many SPD delegates delivered their speeches against joining the Union again and criticizing Schulz. The SPD youth wing launched a signature campaign outside the conference hall against the grand coalition.
SPD's decision was welcomed by the Union.
CDU federal manager Klaus Schueler said after the vote that the aim of the CDU/CSU is to form a reliable and stable government for our country, adding that the CDU will now discuss the next steps at a meeting of the federal executive committee on Sunday and Monday.
In an election later, Schulz was re-elected as SPD's party leader with a total of 81.9 percent of the vote, down from the 100 percent he received in March when he was elected as SPD Chairman.