German conservatives urge SPD to approve further talks

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top Bavarian ally, Horst Seehofer, has told the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) they will plunge Germany into political crisis if at Sunday’s specially convened party meeting they vote against further coalition talks.
Nearly four months after elections, Merkel has still not managed to form a government. The uncertainty has eroded her public standing after 12 years as the dominant leader of Europe, and she is now counting on the SPD, her coalition partner from 2013 to 2017, to once again agree to a tie-up.
Many in the party are reluctant, having hoped to reinvent themselves in opposition after a poor election showing and unsatisfied with a coalition blueprint hammered out in exploratory talks between the party leadership and the conservatives.
At an extraordinary party congress in Bonn on Sunday, delegates will vote on whether the party should embark on fully fledged coalition talks. All SPD party members will get to vote on a final coalition deal, if there is one.
Asked in an interview by the mass-selling daily Bild what would happen if delegates to Sunday’s SPD party congress rejected a re-run of a ‘grand coalition’ with the conservatives, Seehofer said: “That would be a political disaster for our country.”
Should they reject further talks, Seehofer said there could be new elections followed by yet more difficult coalition negotiations once again.
“I can only appeal to everybody to get their act together and enable the formation of a government. Anything else would be disastrous for Germany.”
The SPD’s parliamentary leader, Andrea Nahles, said she was optimistic the delegates would endorse formal talks with Merkel’s conservatives about a new coalition government.
“I have no ‘Plan B,’” Nahles said in Thursday editions of newspapers published by the Funke Mediengruppe chain, when asked what would happen if the vote failed.
Nahles estimated that a third of delegates to Sunday’s meeting were still undecided, but said she was convinced a majority of delegates would vote to begin coalition talks. — Reuters