No Real Alternative

7 JFebruary 2018

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Germany Closes in on Renewed Grand Coalition

Germany held elections four months ago, and negotiations on a new coalition have only now brought about a renewal of the Grand Coalition between the Christian Democrats [CDU] and the Social Democrats [SPD]. The two sides have finally agreed on who gets which portfolio. The only thing remaining is for the rank and file of the SPD. All things considered, including the arithmetic of the Bundestag, this is probably the best possible result. The alternative is new elections, and there is no guarantee that the math would be easier.

Originally, the SPD had stated it would no longer participate in the Grand Coalition having taken a drubbing at the ballot box. Moving into opposition to recover made perfect sense. The trouble was the CDU (along with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, CSU) could only form a government if it worked with the Free Democrats and the Greens. Those two couldn't agree on a common program. As for working with the far-right Alternative for Germany [AfD in German], no party in Germany wants to be associated with the neo-Nazis, and despite being the third largest bloc in the legislature's lower house, they don't have the seats to put anyone else in the Chancellor's job.

Reports from Europe are that the SPD will have six ministries in the new cabinet, including finance, foreign affairs and labor. Damien McGuinness of the BBC explained, "A Social Democrat finance ministry - replacing pro-austerity Wolfgang Schäuble - is more likely to go along with French President Macron's ambitious plans for EU reform, by allowing more German support for struggling eurozone economies. And at home these powerful ministries would help the SPD push for key left-wing policies, such as better rights for employees."

However, the SPD's 460,000 members have to ratify the agreement in a postal vote over the next few weeks. In recent weeks, there has been a membership drive by the Young Socialists, Jusos. The fear is that these new mebers oppose the Grand Coalition and could derail it. The Old Guard, if one may use that term, still have the numbers. The increase was only a few thousand, enough to tip the scales in a very tight contest, but not enough if the deal looks like a win for the SPD. With control of both the finance and labor ministries, it's hard not to see this as a win.

If the deal wins ratification, the new cabinet will be in place in April. If not, fresh elections lie ahead.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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