Germany’s coalition negotiations: Those uppity Social Democrats

TWO months have passed since Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, won a parliamentary election overwhelmingly, and yet she still struggles to form a new government. The most important country in the European Union is thus being run by a caretaker cabinet, unable to take important decisions. Worse, Mrs Merkel’s effort to negotiate a “grand coalition” between her own centre-right camp and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) seems to be veering in the wrong direction.Could the talks fail entirely? Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD’s boss, and other leading Social Democrats are noisily making demands for Mrs Merkel “to deliver” concessions. The SPD got 25.7% of votes compared with Mrs Merkel’s 41.5%. Mrs Merkel’s supporters are growing frustrated. “I now see the SPD winning,” worries Carsten Linnemann, the leader of the pro-business wing in Mrs Merkel’s party. Horst Seehofer, the conservative premier of Bavaria, warns the SPD against trying to turn the election result “on its head,” implying that he would prefer new elections to capitulation in the negotiations.The bizarre situation has arisen because Mrs Merkel, her strong showing notwithstanding, fell just short of a…

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