By all rights, Germany’s “grand coalition” should have died ages ago.
From its beginning in early 2018, the tie-up between the country’s two largest political groups — Angela Merkel’s center-right bloc and the Social Democrats (SPD) — faced one plague after another, from disastrous election results to backstabbing to leadership turmoil.
As the warring pair nears the coalition’s halfway mark, the GroKo (the German nickname for the coalition) faces its biggest challenge yet — an SPD leadership contest that is expected to serve as a referendum on the fate of the government.
After seeing the party drop from about 25 percent support to just 20 percent during the previous grand coalition, the SPD base was reluctant to link arms with Merkel again, following the 2017 election. Even though SPD members ultimately voted in favor of renewing the coalition, the split in the party remains, with many rank-and-file members pushing for an early exit…
As of early this week, about one-third of party members had voted. Polling has been sparse and a survey this month among SPD members put four of the six pairs within a few points of one another. Michael Roth, Germany’s state secretary for Europe, placed first with 23 percent together with his running mate, Christina Kampmann, a regional politician from North Rhine-Westphalia.
Though neither candidate has a national profile, the pair, by far the youngest on the ballot, has won over crowds with its freshness and unabashed enthusiasm for all things EU (“Our answer to Trump is United States of Europe,” Roth told crowds during the campaign).