Germany’s junior coalition partner is likely to decide whether to remain in government during the Social Democrats (SPD) conference on Dec. 6.
The balance of the German governing coalition changes following the election of Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken in the leadership of the SPD last weekend.
On Monday, the leader of the Conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, told Die Welt that there was no room to renegotiate the terms of the governing coalition. “The new SPD leadership must decide whether they want to stay in this coalition or not,” she told broadcaster ZDF.
However, there is speculation that Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to make some concessions to keep the coalition going, such as approving a minimum pension plan, which is an SPD long-term demand.
Polling suggests both ruling parties are in decline, losing votes to the right, from the Alternative for Germany (AfD), and from the Greens, which is now polling second. The CDU is polling in the region of 28% and SPD around 15%.
In the meantime, the SPD’s finance minister Olaf Scholz has said he will remain in office despite his narrow defeat in his bid for the party’s leadership. Scholz, who is also vice-chancellor, will represent Germany at the Eurogroup on Wednesday in Brussels, before returning to Berlin for the party conference starting on Friday.
If delegates back a petition calling for an end to the so-called “black zero” of zero-budget, Scholz could be forced to resign as he is known to be fiscally conservative. Esken and Walter-Borjans have said that that without a deficit it would be hard to make necessary public investment in digital and green infrastructure.
Only 28% of the party members took part in the leadership conference last weekend.
The debate of policy under a new leadership could mobilise more participants to engage in the decisive forthcoming discussion. A ZDF poll in November suggests that 83% of SPD supporters want the party to remain in power while the far-right is on the ascendance.