Germany's Merkel must unite with opposition Social Democrats
This opinion piece was first published in The Christian Science Monitor.
The most powerful woman in the world – as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is often called – is now going to have to bend a bit. Despite the very strong showing of her center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in Sept. 22 elections, the CDU fell just short of a parliamentary majority, and will have to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement with one of the opposition parties. For the sake of a healthy Germany in a still-distressed Europe, let’s hope for another “grand coalition” with the main opposition, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD).
The two parties are meeting today to discuss a coalition; the CDU will meet with the opposition Greens, a smaller party, next week.
Grand coalitions are not the norm in German federal politics. The last one occurred in 2005, when traditional political party partners couldn’t form a majority. It was Ms. Merkel’s first term as chancellor, and she was forced to integrate her main adversary, the SPD, into her governing team. The situation is similar today, but this time the SPD is loath to enter into a coalition with Merkel’s CDU.
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Sudha David-Wilp is a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Berlin office. She previously oversaw the Congressional Study Group on Germany in Washington DC, a program for lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in the German Bundestag (parliament).