Merkel ally urges Social Democrats to consider new German coalition
BERLIN: Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) should reconsider their opposition to joining a new "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel's conservatives because
Europe needs a stable government in Berlin, a senior ally of the chancellor said on Thursday.
Germany is facing the worst political crisis of its modern history after Merkel's efforts to forge a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens collapsed last weekend, raising fears across Europe of a prolonged leadership vacuum in the continent's economic powerhouse.
The SPD has governed in coalition under Merkel since 2013 but said it wanted to go into opposition after suffering its worst result of the postwar period in the Sept. 24 election.
Some in the SPD, however, are now urging party leader Martin Schulz to reconsider, a view echoed on Thursday by Volker Kauder, leader of Merkel's conservative parliamentary group in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.
"It's my wish that the current partners in the coalition government can get together again," Kauder told Suedwest Presse newspaper.
Schulz is due to meet President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former SPD lawmaker and foreign minister, at 1400 GMT. Steinmeier is trying to help facilitate a coalition government and avoid fresh elections.
Schulz will then consult senior party members at the SPD's Berlin headquarters, SPD sources said. No statements are expected after the SPD meeting.
"We will talk about if and how one can get a federal government in Germany," a senior SPD member said, adding that one option on the table was to support Merkel only indirectly by not blocking a minority government.
Changing course and teaming up with Merkel's conservatives again could require a change of leadership at the SPD - an outcome unlikely before a party conference on Dec. 7-9.
Kauder said Germany needed a government to provide leadership in Europe.
"Europe is waiting for a Germany capable of acting so that it can finally respond to the questions raised by French President (Emmanuel) Macron. The economically strongest country in Europe cannot show itself as a political dwarf," he said.