German Social Democrats endorse formal coalition talks following preliminary agreement with Christian Democrats

Author (Person)
Series Details January 2018
Publication Date 21/01/2018
Content Type

Further information:

An agreement over a blueprint for formal coalition negotiations was reached on 12 January 2018 between representatives of Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. The document includes compromises on a series of issues, from healthcare to migration and EU integration.

SPD delegates voted on 21 January at a Congress in favour of those talks, but the party meeting also showed deep fractures between leadership and grassroots, older and younger members of the party. Any potential coalition agreement would also need to get the agreement of party membership.

+ Preliminary negotiations for a grand coalition, December 2017 to January 2018

Background information:

The Federal Election of September 2017 resulted in further fragmentation of Germany's Bundestag. The Christian Democrats secured an electoral victory but suffered substantial losses. While the Social Democrats did not benefit from that, the Liberals managed to make a comeback to the Parliament following a disastrous outcome in 2013. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) emerged as a new parliamentary stakeholder.

A more fragmented Parliament meant the Christian Democrats needed to join forces with both the Liberals and the Greens to find a majority that could support a new federal government. Initial negotiations were held for the establishment of a 'Jamaica Coalition' between the parties but these broke down in November 2017.

The SPD announced on 15 December the decision to hold preliminary talks with the Christian Democrats led by Angela Merkel's CDU, aiming to form another grand coalition. The news came two days after social democratic leader Martin Schulz met with Ms Merkel and Bavaria's CSU leader Horst Seehofer to discuss forming a potential governing coalition.

The first meeting between Mr Schulz and Ms Merkel was held at the invitation of the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on 30 November. It took place after the softening of the SPD's initial decision to lead the opposition.

+ German Federal Election 2017: Results and Analysis
+ Coalition talks for a federal government following the 2017 Federal Election
+ Collapse of talks for Jamaica Coalition following September election

Reports and analysis of the preliminary agreement reached between Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), followed by an official endorsement given by the SPD Congress.

Related Links
Spiegel Online International, 19.01.18: Inside Germany's Rocky Coalition Talks
The Guardian, 21.01.18: Germany's SPD gives cautious green light to Merkel coalition talks
Politico, 22.01.18: 5 takeaways from German SPD grand coalition vote
Deutsche Welle: [Opinion] An unhappy ending is a bad beginning
Reuters, 21.01.18: German SPD backs coalition talks, leader vows tough approach
The Economist, 19.01.18: The cases for and against a new grand coalition in Germany
Politico, 19.01.18: In heartland, German Social Democrats reject new deal with Merkel
EurActiv, 22.01.18: Germany’s SPD warily backs formal coalition talks with Merkel
Carnegie Europe: [Commentary] Waiting for Merkel’s Legacy
Carnegie Europe: [Commentary] Germany’s Unfinished Business
ECFR: [Commentary] Berlin’s European agenda
ECFR: [Commentary] The sense of an ending: Contours of the next German government
The Guardian, 12.01.18: German coalition talks clear first hurdle after marathon session
BBC News, 12.01.18: Germany coalition talks: Merkel welcomes breakthrough
Politico, 13.01.18 SPD leaders try to rally support for Merkel coalition plan
The Economist, 12.01.18: Germany moves one step closer to a new government
EUObserver, 12.01.18: German coalition deal aims for 'Macron-lite' EU renewal
Deutsche Welle, 12.01.18: Critics weigh in on Germany's coalition talks 'breakthrough'
Deutsche Welle, 12.01.18: German coalition talks reach breakthrough: A look at what comes next
Reuters, 12.01.18: Coalition deal leaves Merkel's fate in hands of Social Democrats
Deutsche Welle: [Opinion] German coalition talks, a tale of success and reluctance

Countries / Regions