Unconvinced Germans and Unconservative Republicans

Angela Merkel
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, November 9, 2016 (Bundesregierung)

Germany’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats are both fending off grassroots rebellions against their decision to form another grand coalition government.

On the right, there is dismay that Angela Merkel gave away the powerful Finance Ministry. Der Spiegel reports that the decision has stirred her erstwhile catatonic party into a potentially revolutionary fury. The liberal Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung can already see the “twilight” of the Merkel era.

On the left, there is disappointment that Martin Schulz broke his word not to team up with Merkel and fear that the party will be punished at the next election. Wolfgang Münchau — prone to exaggeration, but maybe not far off this time — writes that we may be in for a Brexit-style surprise on March 4, when Social Democratic Party members vote on the coalition deal. Read more “Unconvinced Germans and Unconservative Republicans”

Germany’s Social Democrats Trade Credibility for Power

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013 (European Parliament)

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) punched above their weight and won. They have secured three key ministries in negotiations for another coalition government with the right: finance, foreign affairs and labor. For a party with only 20 percent support, that is an impressive result.

Yet they are in trouble. Read more “Germany’s Social Democrats Trade Credibility for Power”

The Arguments For and Against Another Grand Coalition in Germany

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, gives a speech in Brussels, February 2, 2016
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, gives a speech in Brussels, February 2, 2016 (European Parliament)

Jeremy Cliffe lists the arguments for and against Germany’s Social Democrats joining another grand coalition government with Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Read more “The Arguments For and Against Another Grand Coalition in Germany”

Immigration, Digital Economy Reforms Justify Another Grand Coalition in Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in parliament in Berlin, September 10, 2014
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, in parliament in Berlin, September 10, 2014 (Wikimedia Commons/Tobias Koch)

German media report that the country’s Christian Democrats and Social Democrats are making progress in talks to form another coalition government.

  • There is reportedly a deal to attract more high-skilled migrants.
  • The parties are willing to spend €12 billion to expand fast Internet access across Germany by 2025.
  • They are also looking at tax incentives to promote digital research and investment.

The plans bely fears that another “grand coalition” would muddle through for four more years and not make necessary reforms. Read more “Immigration, Digital Economy Reforms Justify Another Grand Coalition in Germany”

Schulz In No Rush, Makes Demands on Europe, Health Insurance

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel signs a guestbook, November 7, 2012
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel signs a guestbook, November 7, 2012 (European Parliament)

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz has made clear he is in no rush to form another grand coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, telling reporters in Berlin, “We are under no time pressure.”

This is partly theater. Schulz ruled out another left-right pact after losing the election in September, but now it may be the only way to form a majority government. His base is skeptical, so he must take it slow.

Schulz is also signaling to Merkel that she better give the Social Democrats enough concessions for them to justify four more years of coalition government. Read more “Schulz In No Rush, Makes Demands on Europe, Health Insurance”

Another Grand Coalition Dilemma for Germany’s Social Democrats

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013 (European Parliament)

Germany’s Social Democrats have opened the door to another left-right pact with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, but many in the party are apprehensive.

Another “grand coalition” may be the only way to form a majority government after Merkel’s talks with the liberal Free Democrats and Greens failed. That gives the Social Democrats leverage.

But they are punished by voters every time they team up with the center-right. Read more “Another Grand Coalition Dilemma for Germany’s Social Democrats”

Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz makes a speech in Bavaria, March 1 (Bayern SPD/Joerg Koch)

Germany’s Social Democrats are going the way of the Dutch Labor Party.

Both parties tried to appeal to their working- and middle-class constituents in elections this year and both lost precisely because of this indecision.

Campaigning on liberal immigration laws, social justice and international engagement alienates blue-collar voters.

Campaigning on border controls and deemphasizing identity politics turns away college graduates.

Do both at the same time and you end up with with no supporters at all. Read more “Germany’s Social Democrats Should Have Picked Side”

Social Democrats in Germany Make Same Mistake as Dutch

German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013
German Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, makes a speech in Brussels, June 19, 2013 (European Parliament)

Germany’s Social Democrats are making the same mistake as the Dutch Labor Party, I argue in the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper this week.

Like Labor, which went down from 25 to 6 percent support in the most recent election, the Social Democrats are trying to appeal to both working- and middle-class supporters. It is that indecision that is turning both groups away from them.

College-educated voters in the city see the benefits of open borders in Europe and free trade with the rest of the world. Low-skilled workers and small towns feel the downsides. Progressives obsess about gay rights and gender issues that animate few blue-collar voters. Read more “Social Democrats in Germany Make Same Mistake as Dutch”