A majority of Social Democrat (SPD) supporters back the deal agreed last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, polls showed on Sunday, signalling grassroots members may vote for the “grand coalition” in a ballot. Two months after Merkel emerged victorious from an election but fell just short of a parliamentary majority, the two sides agreed a 185-page blueprint for a right-left government that still has to be approved by SPD members. The result of the ballot of some 474,000 members is due by December 15 and party leaders hope this will mean a government in Europe’s biggest economy can start work before Christmas. However, an element of doubt hangs over the outcome thanks to deep scepticism among SPD ranks about going into government with Merkel. The SPD is scarred by its worst post-war election result in 2009 after sharing power with Merkel for four years.
A Forsa poll in the Welt am Sonntag paper showed 78 percent of SPD voters back the deal and only 19 percent reject it. A separate Emnid poll in Bild am Sonntag put the share of SPD supporters who favour a grand coalition at 70 percent.
Although the polls refer to SPD supporters and not the grassroots members who will actually vote, the strong figures are an indication of the prevailing mood as SPD leaders tour the country to sell the deal at dozens of regional conferences.
The party’s General-Secretary Andrea Nahles said she was optimistic that members would give their approval but that the result was not a foregone conclusion and she signalled the party’s leaders would stand down if the result was a ‘no’.
“It must be clear what a rejection would mean,” Nahles told the Welt am Sonntag. “The whole party leadership threw itself into this process. We all negotiated hard and stand by this result. We will take responsibility,” she said.