Germany's new old coalition
Germany, where politicians have been unsuccessfully trying to create a new government for the past four months, is on the verge of important domestic political changes. On January 21, Germany's Social Democratic Party will hold a party congress, which would define in many ways the logic of the further developments in the country. The fact is that in late September last year, when the Social Democrats suffered a total defeat in the elections, the SPD leader Martin Schulz categorically ruled out another "grand coalition" with the CDU/CSU alliance and announced they would return to opposition - at least until Angela Merkel serves as German Chancellor.
It was a start of the long and painful negotiations of the German parties (CDU/CSU, the Greens and the Free Democrats) to agree on the formation of a government coalition after the election to the Bundestag. However, they ended in failure after the Free Democrats withdraw, believing that their interests were not taken into account by their partners, as appropriate. Meanwhile, the Jamaica coalition - as the media dubbed the failed coalition - would have been the most suitable for Angela Merkel, who could confidently rule the country in this scenario, without looking back at her two "junior partners" in the coalition.
After the so-called Jamaica coalition failed, there was almost stalemate in the internal policy of Germany. German politicians had three alternatives: holding new elections, insisting on Angela Merkel's resignation and creating a "grand coalition", or trying to agree on the creation of a "grand coalition" without the chancellor's resignation. And the repeated elections mean trouble for any of the political forces entering the parliament, except for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which would probably have added a couple more percentage points.
No one in the CDU party seriously demanded Angela Merkel's resignation: over 18 years of leadership in the CDU and 13 years of chancellorship, Merkel became "uncontested" for the party, in whose ranks there was no one to challenge her - even despite the fact that in the last elections the CDU scored historically lowest result of 33%.
Against this backdrop, the SPD leader Martin Schulz, who had previously unequivocally excluded the possibility of creating a "grand coalition", signaled his readiness to start coalition talks with the CDU/CSU, explaining the change in his position by a sense of responsibility for the country that could not agree on the formation of a new government for the third consecutive month. But not all Social-Democrats agree with this idea - first of all, the left wing of the party and its youth organization Jusos oppose it. Kevin Kunert, leader of the SPD's youth movement, speaking with Die Welt, commented the first results of sounding negotiations with the CDU: "The highest tax rate for the rich will not be increased, an upper limit is imposed on the reception of refugees, the decision to reunite families is also disappointing." Critics of the "grand coalition" note that another 4 years of joint work with the CDU/CSU to the detriment of the social democratic principles will be a "fatal blow" for the party, already experiencing a historical crisis.
Ultimately, everything will be decided on January 21, when party delegates will vote on whether or not to start negotiations on the formation of a "grand coalition". However, this is not a guarantee of the successful creation of the coalition: even if the SPD delegates approve the start of negotiations with the CDU on this Sunday, it all depends on whether 450,000 members of the SPD, the so-called "basis" of the party, will support it. If the idea does not win the approval of a majority of delegates, or it fails at the "basis" level, it means the imminent end of Martin Schultz's chairmanship in the SPD. Such a scenario is likely to imply a new election, which will be a serious challenge for Chancellor Angela Merkel. Die Zeit even published an article in this regard titled 'The Chancellor: Merkel's Farewell,' in which the results of Merkel's rule were summed up, whose political fate hangs in the balance now. Thus, the January 21 inner-party decision of the German Social Democrats will be a turning point in the further political career of German's two leading politicians: Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz.
Today, political uncertainty in Germany has reached its peak. Regardless of whether the parties manage to form a government, the country will no longer be the same. The next four years of the "grand coalition" mean the preservation of the current political course led by Merkel, which, despite Germany's objective economic successes of recent years, has reduced the popularity of both "people's parties" to the historic minimum. If the creation of the coalition fails, the country will face the most serious governing crisis in its recent history.