Germany‘s Social Democrats (SPD) are considering holding a direct ballot of their members to select a candidate to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel at the next national election set down for 2017. Leading SPD figures said on Wednesday they were open to conducting a plebiscite of the party‘s about 474,000 members to decide on its chancellor candidate. This follows a call by the leader of the SPD‘s youth wing, Johanna Uekermann who told the daily Welt on Wednesday: “Each member must be allowed a say in a primary-type election.” SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel has also indicated recently that the party membership should be allowed to vote if several candidates emerge to head up the election campaign.
Germany: Raising The Bar For Participation? The German SPD Membership Ballot | Social Europe Journal
It was an interesting and promising experiment: In December 2013 the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) asked its members to vote on the question of a possible grand coalition with the German Christian Democrats of Angela Merkel. And within as well as outside of the party many observers had been questioning if this procedure was such a good idea. A broad and fundamental discussion arose about the planned party ballot and whether the mere 475.000 members of one political party should, in the end, be able to decide if a planned national government could materialize. And don’t forget about the question of wether the usual procedures of a parliamentary democracy can easily be extended with more direct and participatory forms of decision-making. A big part of the guessing game on a possible outcome of the membership vote was due to the fact that any survey could only focus on people sympathizing with the SPD but not directly on the members themselves. Only the party leadership holds the address list of party members and running a poll over the whole population just to filter the voting SPD members out would have been far too costly. The result was that until the party ballot was held nobody really had an idea what the outcome would be and therefore about the consequences for the SPD, any new government run by Angela Merkel, and for German democracy in general.
Germany’s Social Democrat party has begun counting votes after it held a referendum asking its members whether to join Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new grand coalition. The final count is expected late Saturday. Some 300,000 members of Germany’s second-biggest party submitted postal ballots Thursday to decided whether their party, the Social Democrats (SPD) will join forces with Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), and sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) in a grand coalition. While approval by the party is expected amid SPD leadership confidence that it will win a majority, there were fears that the unprecedented referendum would be flawed by members failing to follow all the voting guidelines Die Welt newspaper online said one-tenth of returned ballots were likely to be declared invalid because they were not accompanied by a legally binding affirmation that the member had not voted twice.
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.