December 12, 2017
Unconventional ideas as a metric of the SPD's despair
This story in Spiegel Online is an indicator that the SPD's leadership is getting nervous about a grand coalition. It seems that the leadership wants it badly, but does not know how to sell it to the members. Martin Schulz is now considering the option of a minimal coalition agreement - where only a few parameters are agreed, rather than an entire programme. The rest is discussed and negotiated in the Bundestag. The thinking behind this is that stronger parliamentary involvement would make the grand coalition more attractive for sceptical SPD members. The SPD managed to get a lot of its own policies agreed during the last grand coalition, but SPD members and voters were not fully aware of this because everything had been pre-agreed in a 185-page coalition agreement.
We are not sure that this proposal will do the trick of persuading the SPD's hostile membership. With hindsight, it would have been the right thing to do last time. In the last parliament, the combined forces of the left had a majority. But this is no longer so. If you leave policy areas open, the SPD may find that it will get persistently outvoted by a majority of CDU/CSU, AfD, and FDP. In any case, we doubt that Merkel would want a situation where she needs to find majorities with the AfD.