Will members of SPD approve or reject the coalition deal?

What you think about the deal in general, who made more concessions and would you say that will be yes in SPD party referendum? Read few comments.

Christian SchweigerLecturer in Government, Department of Politics, Durham University

I am surprised how much common ground the three party leaders seem to have found during the negotiations. I have only seen a summary of the agreement but it looks like it represents a balanced deal which takes into account the positions of both the CDU/CSU and the SPD. This is particularly illustrated by the introduction of a minimum wage of 8.50 euros (a key point from the SPD election manifesto) and the likely introduction of a road toll for foreigners (a key CSU demand). In this respect it is surprising that the SPD was accepted as an equal partner by both CDU and CSU, given that the SPD only polled a bit more than 25 per cent in the general election.

I would say that particularly the CDU is probably the party that has made most concessions. It was against the introduction of a minimum wage which it will now have to swallow and also the relaxation of the pensions system (people with 45 years of contributions will be able to retire at 63) is a key SPD demand.

I personally think the deal is probably the best we could get given the very difficult outcome of the election and the fact that the SPD had categorically ruled out any cooperation with the Party of the Left. I am nevertheless concerned that it will lead to an increase in public disillusionment with politics.

This is less because of the policies the three parties are likely to implement but more because of 80 per cent majority the three parties will have in parliament. Opposition against this government will therefore be marginalised and in my opinion there is a risk that this could strengthen the radical fringes of the political spectrum (especially the AFD, the eurosceptic ‘Alternative fuer Deutschland’).

From what I can see from the reports about the mood in SPD many members are outright hostile. Der Spiegel reported this week that the mood amongst the SPD grassroots is currently outright hostile and that it is likely that a majority of members will reject the deal. The main reason seems to be that members are concerned that the SPD will once again be marginalised in a government under Merkel. I have the same concern and for me it is also a bitter pill that Merkel would once again be elected as Chancellor with SPD votes. On the other hand all members know that a rejection of the deal is likely to lead to the resignation of Gabriel and the top leadership of the party which would plunge us into a deep crisis and also very likely lead to a disaster if an early election would have to follow.

Sebastian BukowWissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Forschungsinformation und Qualitätsicherung, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

In the agreement we can find a few aspects that are SPD topics:

– minimum wages (but with a few, I would say minor limitations such as transitional rules)
– retirement at the age 63 (after 45 years of contributions to pension fund)
– HGV fees on all national streets
– changes in citizenship law (“Doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft”)

But there are a few important aspects for CDU/CSU as well:

– no tax increase
– no fundamental changes in health insurance (no “Bürgerversicherung”, still public and private insurance systems)
– higher pension for mothers
– fees for passenger cars that are not registered in Germany (but – of course – only if possible by European law (that aspects, the compatibility with EU law, is a symbolic statement and a pro for the SPD)

Furthermore, there are several real compromises (e.g. regulations for hired-out employees) and common positions (e.g. homeland security, data retention etc.).

To sum it up: I would say the SPD has made a few important (and highly discussed) points, but the CDU/CSU has accomplished important points as well. In the media the SPD was more in focus, but this should not be misunderstood in a way that SPD did succeed more than CDU/CSU, at a first glance the coalition agreement seems quite well-balanced.

Right now it is hard to say if SPD members will accept it or not. I would tend to say they will, due to two reasons: If they disagree, SPD will be in a fundamental crisis and all in all, the agreement is not that bad for them (in fact, Merkel already moved a little bit towards SPDs positions before). But there will be discussions in the SPD and in public within the next weeks, and some media are arguing quite hard against the grand coalition… So: hard to say what will happen, but it think it is a little bit more likely that they will accept it than that they will not.

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