German Social Democrats have new leadership, coalition with Democrats questionable



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German Social Democrats have new leadership, coalition with Democrats questionable



SASKIA ESKEN and Norbert Walter-Borjans are set to take over the leadership of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) after the results of a vote by SPD members that gave the two men an advantage were announced.

“Esken and Walter-Borjans won 53.06 percent of the vote and Klara Geywitz and Olaf Scholz 45.33 percent,” said SPD Acting President Malu Dreyer.



Coalition questionable

Officially, the Esken / Walter-Borjans duo are due to be elected at a party convention late next week in Berlin. Prior to this, the party's rulebook, which currently provides for only one person at the head of the party, must be amended.

The election of the Esken / Walter-Borjans duo as party leader could also affect the continuation of the coalition government of Democrats and Social Democrats led by Angela Merkel.

The Esken / Walter-Borjans represent the left wing of the party, which from the outset resisted the party's entry into a new coalition with the CDU / CSU Union.

At the upcoming party congress, the SPD should discuss remaining in coalition with the Democrats. Esken / Walter-Borjans have announced they will support the SPD's demand for changes to the coalition deal with Democrats as a condition of staying in the coalition.

Given that Christian Democratic Union (CDU) President Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has already announced that she will not agree to changes to the coalition agreement, there is a threat of a government crisis and possible early elections next year.

It would also mean Angela Merkel's early departure from power, which has announced she is stepping down as chancellor after the end of this 2021 election period.

The SPD is seeking greater investment in climate protection projects and raising the minimum to 12 euros, which the CDU / CSU Union rejects.

Divisions within the party

The newly-elected Esken / Walter-Borjans duo have announced they will work to eliminate divisions within the party that has been split over the issue since joining the coalition with the CDU / CSU Union in spring 2018.

“We will fight to keep the party united,” said former finance minister of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia Walter-Borjans after announcing the results of the party base vote.

The election of a new leadership was necessary after the then party president, Andrea Nahles, resigned amid intra-party pressure over poor Social Democrats results in local and European Parliament elections.

The SPD has been in crisis for several years, with voter support at its lowest level historically. According to recent opinion polls, the SPD would cast about 14 percent of voters, a value similar to that of the right-populist Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The SPD was ranked second by party strength by the Greens, currently supported by about 22 percent of voters.

German Social Democrats have new leadership, coalition with Democrats questionable

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