government crisis

Five signs a new grand coalition is in the cards

Steinmeier und Schulz
Social Democrat VIPs Martin Schulz (left) and Frank-Walter Steinmeier have some serious talking to do. Source: DPA

1. As opposition party, Social Democrats would continue to lose relevance

Social Democrats lack a unique selling point in the race against the far-right AfD, the Leftists and the Free Democrats. Don’t like refugees? Vote AfD. Want to go the Robin Hood route, taking from the rich and giving to the poor? Give your yea to the Left. Doing everything you can to climb the social ladder? The Free Democrats are for you.

2. Germany’s conservative parties are Social Democrats’ true friends

The conservatives have a leader who is more than willing to meet the Social Democrats half way – more Europe, less armament and a couple extra billion euros for the welfare state. With Chancellor Merkel urgently in need of a coalition partner, it’s starting to feel like a lonely hearts’ club ball in Berlin. Everyone knows the music is about to stop, so they’re all cuddling up to each other.

With Chancellor Merkel urgently in need of a coalition partner, it’s starting to feel like a lonely hearts’ club ball in Berlin.

3. Social Democrats would be in a position to make demands

Now that the Social Democrats are coming around, they’ll basically have their pick of jobs and positions. Sigmar Gabriel gets to stay on as foreign minister, which most Germans see as a good thing. They could probably rake in another four cabinet posts and maybe even an additional finance minister post.

4. Support from the Social Democratic Bundestag faction would be a given

No one has to worry about getting approval from the parliamentarians in the Social Democrats’ Bundestag faction. They hate the idea of new elections. They’d rather lose face than their jobs.

5. Schulz would stand to lose in a snap election

Social Democrat party leader Martin Schulz knows that even if he manages to keep his current position, his party will not give him a second chance at jockeying for the chancellorship. The only question is: Where do you go if you promised to never be part of a Merkel cabinet during your election campaign? Brussels breathes new life into those who have bungled their way through the domestic political echelons. With the billions of euros Brussels has shelled out to save ailing EU member countries, a second EU commissioner’s position for Germany should be doable. After a detour through a lost German federal election, that would put Martin Schulz right where he wanted to be all along.

Gabor Steingart is publisher of Handelsblatt. To contact the author: steingart@handelsblatt.com

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