The voting members of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) made their voices heard and sided by a larger than expected margin to approve the new grand coalition government between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the SPD, ending a months-long gap in a proper government and avoiding the need for the country to hold new elections.
When the vote was counted on Sunday, 66.02-percent of the more than 450,000 SPD voting members approved the grand coalition, leaving only 33.98-percent opposed. Much of the talk leading up to the final tally was that the party was evenly split and that the vote could easily go either way, but it appears SPD Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks had the more accurate assessment when she came out on Thursday to say the vote would most like end with 60-percent in favor of joining the coalition agreement.
Now that Germany will finally have a proper government again — elections were originally held back in September — the real work can begin, and there are going to be some major changes. In order for the SPD to agree on entering into a new coalition with the CDU/CSU, many concessions had to be made in their favor. Key positions once held by Merkel’s own conservatives will be handed over to SPD leaders, and policies will begin shifting to the center-left to match.
The parties have a few more days left to get their affairs in order and make final selections of key cabinet members before signing the coalition agreement on March 14, and as a result, electing Angela Merkel chancellor of Germany for a fourth and most likely final term in office.