Germany: Tensions rise within the governing coalition as the Social Democrats elect a new leadership
Tensions within the ruling coalition government of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) are set to rise ahead after the SPD elected a new leftist leadership, although a premature end to the grand coalition that has ruled Germany for much of the last 14 years seems unlikely.
Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, who ran on a platform calling for a leftward shift of the party and have fiercely criticized the coalition, were elected as the new leaders of the Social Democrats. Ahead, it is thus likely that the two will try and win concessions from the CDU on matters such as a higher minimum wage, greater public investment, bolder measures to combat climate change and taxation reform. Although senior CDU party figures ruled out reopening talks, the likeliest outcome is that the CDU will cede some ground in order to keep the current coalition in place. Ultimately, snap elections would not be in either party’s favor as both have seen their popularity diminish since the federal election in 2017. Moreover, the latest polls show that the German electorate does not necessarily back the new SPD leadership, while Chancellor Angela Merkel is embroiled in interparty wrangling as the position of the party leader and heir-apparent, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has become less secure in recent months.
In short, it seems unlikely that the grand coalition’s existence will come to a premature end, although political tensions and the risk of an early break up have risen somewhat with the election of the new, left-wing leadership of the SPD. The CDU-SPD partnership is likely to continue governing Germany through the end of its mandate by 2021, with some concessions from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party.