Germany's Social Democrats maintain crunch vote at this time

JOHN MACDOUGALL  AFP  Getty

The leader of Germany's Social Democrats Friday urged members of his center-left party to endorse coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives or risk facing new elections that could further damage the party. The CSU leader even explained in the interview that he's not swayed by polls showing that the Grand Coalition can barely count on 50 percent support among voters.

The euro has enjoyed a stellar run of late, rising nearly 4 percent versus the dollar over the last three months. In Germany, the politician that is often compared to Macron is Christian Lindner, leader of the liberal FDP and the figure who announced the failure of the Jamaica coalition. She could call fresh elections which would mean many more months of uncertainty and probably a similar result as the September vote. A no vote could wreck any coalition deal.

Many Social Democrats have voiced fears that should their party become part of a new coalition, the anti-migrant nationalist Alternative for Germany party would be left as the country's largest opposition party.

Despite positive results, the opposition to a coalition with the conservatives remains strong within the SPD.

"If we can achieve something good for people in this country, if we can achieve something good for the peoples of Europe, then we should do it", SPD Chairman Martin Schulz said in his closing appeal before the vote.

Despite the hype, Sunday's vote is not the final act in Germany's post-electoral limbo.

Taken at face value, it's also an assumption that could potentially strengthen the case for the formation of an even "grander" coalition of political parties.

However Merkel's subsequent attempts to form an alternative coalition with Germany's environmentalist Green party and the pro-business liberal Free Democrats broke down late a year ago after the liberals complained that their policies were at risk of being ignored in a Merkel-led coalition.

Had the Social Democrats voted against opening negotiations, Merkel would have faced forming a minority government - which she has indicated she is not interested in doing - or a new election would have had to be called.

One CDU lawmaker, who admired Merkel's mastery of detail but complained she lacks empathy, said that handing over the chancellorship early would strengthen her successor and the party in the next election, due in 2021.

The two parties are set to embark on formal coalition negotiations after agreeing compromises on questions including European integration, healthcare and migration quotas.

"We will negotiate until the other side squeals", the party's parliamentary leader, Andrea Nahles, said in the most impassioned of the speeches at the congress in Bonn, imploring delegates to vote "yes".

In the preliminary grand coalition deal, Schulz sees the first steps to a new kind of politics: looser German purse-strings for overdue investment in schools, roads, digital infrastructure, as well as guaranteed pensions and improved pay for a growing army of old-age carers.

Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron said they had agreed to draw up a new treaty this year. "Important decisions have to be made now - not in three, four, five years". If the leadership wins, official coalition talks between the SPD and the conservative alliance of Christian Democrats and the Christian Social Union will be able to proceed.

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