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Germany's SPD party leadership gives green-light to coalition negotiations with CDU/CSU
Last Updated: 2017-12-05 08:25 | Xinhua
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The seek for a new German government is moving to a new stage, as the leadership of the German Social Democrats (SPD) on Monday gave its approval to a potential relaunch of a "grand coalition" with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU).

German media reported that the SPD leadership was in favor of entry into talks over the formation of a new government without any fixed expectations of the result. Katrin Budde, Governor of Saxony-Anhalt, was the only member of the party's governing committee to abstain from her vote.

The decision cleared a significant hurdle left for Germany to resolve its current political impasse after the collapse of "Jamaica" coalition negotiations.

"Jamaica" refers to the traditional colors of the three parties, the Union (black), the FDP (yellow) and the Greens (green) coincide with that of the Caribbean state's national flag.

However, SPD leader Martin Schulz has announced that a final decision will only be made by the Social Democratic base at the upcoming party conference on Thursday.

The SPD felt "obliged to explore in talks, whether and how the SPD can support a new federal government," a resolution produced by the party leadership on Monday read.

The document further stated that "there was no prior determination (of a political course of action) and no automatism (towards a grand coalition)." Another option that is still being considered alongside a new "grand-coalition" is for the SPD to lend its legislative support to a CDU/CSU minority government.

The SPD governing committee will assess the outcome of discussions with the CDU and CSU and make a subsequent recommendation on the basis. The party base will be able to vote on a blueprint for the start of preliminary talks on Thursday, as well as on the transition to official coalition negotiations thereafter.

The published blueprint lists a number of "essential" points which must be met for the SPD to consider cooperating with a cabinet led by veteran ChancellorAngela Merkel(CDU). These include harmonizing corporate taxation throughout theEuropean Union(EU) and introducing a system of EU-wide minimum wages, both of which are likely to prove thorny subjects in prospective negotiations.

Furthermore, the SPD is calling for reforms to Germany's pensions and healthcare system, as well as raising taxes on the top income bracket to generate funds for public investment in education, faster internet speeds, roadworks and affordable housing.

Yet even before Schulz has the chance to clash with the CDU and CSU over these issues, the former president of the European Parliament is widely-anticipated to face considerable resistance to a renewal of the "grand-coalition" at Thursday's party conference.

The SPD youth organization has launched a "no grand-coalition" campaign, lending voice to fears that the party could become even further marginalized with regards to its voter share during another official term in the shadow of Merkel. This sentiment is shared by some senior party members, including Manuela Schwesig, governor of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Malu Dreyer, governor of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The conference will also decide Schulz's personal future in the SPD as he seeks another term as party leader.

Immediately after his electoral defeat in September, Schulz originally vowed to return with his party to the opposition benches. He only recently softened his stance after a dramatic appeal by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier after the Free Democratic Party (FDP) triggered the collapse of "Jamaica" coalition negotiations and thrust Germany into a rare moment of political crisis.

A Forsa opinion poll for the broadcasters "RTL" and "ntv" showed on Monday that the FDP has haemorrhaged electoral support since the controversial decision to abandon "Jamaica" talks. Only 8 percent of respondents said they would now cast their vote for the FDP compared to a 10.7 percent voter share secured by the party in September's federal elections.

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