Wary of renewing a coalition with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany’s Social Democrats are instead contemplating a so-called “cooperation” arrangement that would see them agree on a minimal program but leave contested matters up for debate. With talks on a new government starting on Wednesday, the “cooperation” suggestion is seen by some in the party as an answer to the dilemma of a centre-left party that fears sharing power with conservatives blurs its identity in voters’ minds. Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz said he would lead the SPD into opposition after a disastrous showing in September’s national election, but was forced to reconsider after Merkel’s attempts at forming a three-way government collapsed, leaving Europe’s economic powerhouse without a new government.
But SPD members and lawmakers are reluctant to sign up for a simple repeat of the four-year Merkel-led grand coalition, after which voters rewarded the junior partner with its worst-ever post-war election result.
In a paper seen by Reuters on Tuesday, lawmaker Matthias Miersch, leader of the SPD’s parliamentary left caucus, suggested the two parties agree to cooperate on a minimal program while leaving other matters open.