Will Germany have a new government next month or will elections follow swiftly?
The eventual arrangement was widely viewed as being tipped in the SPD’s favour, despite them being the junior partner and performing worse in last year’s elections than they have in decades. Nonetheless, Merkel's party look content with the deal.
Mission accomplished, you say? Stability secured?
If only it were that simple.
There is still one major obstacle to the formation of a new grand coalition. In order to finalise the deal, SPD members will have vote in its favour. The results will be announced on 4th March, and SPD members have already started voting.
However, DW reports that the SPD’s youth movement, led by the charismatic Kevin Kuhnert, are arguing that the party should reject the deal. DW also reports that of the many new members who joined the SPD ahead of the vote, some could be joining with the specific aim of voting against the coalition.
If the SPD’s youth-wing is successful, there are four outcomes, but one overshadows the other:
For the sake of stability, it is possible to envisage a new deal being drawn up even more in the SPD’s favour. However, this would anger Merkel’s right, especially the CSU, and not go down well with SPD members who want their party to return to opposition and prepare to lead a future government no matter what.
Another option is renewal of talks between the CDU/CSU the Greens and the FDP although after last time's failure, it is hard to see that getting anywhere.
There is also the possibility of minority rule - or perhaps minority-rule with the FDP. This would be far from ideal and unlikely to last long.
Lastly, the option which seems most likely if SPD members reject a deal is a fresh set of elections. With polls suggesting that the far-right AfD are on track to become Germany’s second largest party, it’s the option none of the mainstream movements – especially the currently second-placed SPD – want. However, if the SPD’s members reject the final deal then then that's exactly what they could get.