December 08, 2016
Schröder tells SPD to dump Merkel
Few German leaders had such a good political instinct as Gerhard Schröder, who in his time in government steadily refused to make a coalition with the Left Party - the successor of the former East German communists. Now he tells his party they should seriously consider precisely this - and we think they will. Gregor Peter Schmitz of Wirtschaftswoche has the story. Schröder told him that the SPD can beat Merkel. They have to enter the campaign with the claim that they want to lead the country. And he said it was right for the SPD to keep open all power options, including that of a coalition with the Left Party and the Greens for as long as they can agree on joint policies.
The arithmetic does not, at present, add up for what the Germans call a "red-red-green" coalition, but Schröder notes that the CDU is not doing all that well either, and it has much more to lose from the AfD than the SPD.
Schröder, and pretty much everyone else to the left of the CDU, criticised yesterday's decision by the CDU party congress to favour the abolition of dual citizenship rules for young immigrants. Merkel and the SPD had agreed a difficult reform to ease the possibility of dual citizenship, which the CDU now wants to see reversed. Merkel said she regretted the vote by her Party's congress, and said she would not implement in the current parliament's term, nor would she use it in the election campaign. She does not want to give the SPD a bullet to kill her politically. Schröder said the decision annulled her 2015 open-door policy for refugees. FAZ, meanwhile, reported that the SPD is furious about this vote, which was brought by the CDU’s youth organisation, and surprising approved by the Congress. This is the kind of stuff to watch out for. The coalition could break down over such a thing.
Nico Fried writes in Süddeutsche that the CDU has taken its revenge on Merkel. This is a gradual process of alienation, not strong enough to destroy Merkel, but strong enough to weaken her. She is now being treated in the same way she has treated others - through a process of gradual erosion. Fried makes the substantive point that the debate within the CDU is not about refugees but foreigners in general. The conservatives want to emphasise national values, outlaw the burka, and write into the constitution that German is the only official language of Germany. The CDU no longer follows Merkel’s openness. The party wants to close up, he writes.