Germany’s CDU and SPD reach formal coalition agreement in principle following further negotiations

Author (Person)
Series Details February 2018
Publication Date 12/02/2018
Content Type

Further information:

The agreement would grant Angela Merkel her fourth mandate as Germany's Chancellor, while the Social Democrats (SPD) were guaranteed important portfolios in the cabinet. Olaf Scholz would take the finance minister post. Media sources initially reported that Martin Schulz would give up SPD leadership to focus on his foreign affairs portfolio. However, it was later announced he would not take part in the government either, amid internal criticism from his own party.

+ Martin Schulz resigns as leader of Germany's SPD, 13 February

The deal would still have to be approved by various party bodies but that was expected to be a formality. The biggest remaining hurdle was seen as the SPD’s membership vote, which had already shown deep fractures following the preliminary talks.

+ SPD endorses formal coalition talks following preliminary agreement with CDU, 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.

An agreement over a blueprint for formal coalition negotiations was reached on 12 January 2018 between representatives of Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats.

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

Reports and analysis on the formal coalition agreement reached by the Social and Christian Democrats in Germany on 7 February 2018.

Related Links
Politico, 07.02.18: 5 takeaways on German coalition deal
BBC News, 07.02.18: Germany coalition deal reached after months of wrangling
The Economist, 07.02.18: Germany’s grand coalition parties reach a deal
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The Guardian, 07.02.18: Merkel's party loses key ministries in coalition deal
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Sputnik International, 07.02.18: German Coalition Gov't Deal to Speed Up 'Downfall' of CDU/CSU, SPD Parties - AfD
EurActiv, 07.02.18: Merkel ready for ‘painful compromises’ with coalition deal in sight
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EUObserver, 07.02.18: German coalition talks drag on
Euronews, 07.02.18: SPD-CDU 'grand coalition' for Germany on hold
EUObserver, 12.02.18: Merkel defends her coalition government
BBC News, 09.02.18: SPD's Schulz gives up cabinet role to save deal
Balkan Insight, 12.02.18: Balkans Await Germany's 'Return' Under New Merkel Govt
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 12.02.18: For Germany, Stability Trumps Ambition
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Euro|topics, March 2018: Will grand coalition clear the way for EU reform?
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ECFR: Commentary, 14.03.18: Europe needs more than management from Germany

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