SPD boss quits, sparking German government crisis
The SPD is under fresh pressure to bring down Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition but many of its MPs are reportedly uneasy about forcing an early general election while they are at a low electoral ebb.
Merkel and her chosen successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, both called on the SPD to ensure Germany had a stable and functioning government.
Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said: “The temptation of cutting the ties looks beneficial for the SPD but new elections would be a catastrophe for it.
“I expect the SPD under new leadership will remain in the coalition. If not, it’ll be the end of Merkel as chancellor.”
The SPD failed to win the most votes in the state of Bremen for the first time in 73 years last weekend.
An opinion poll also showed the Greens in first place for the first time, overtaking Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
“Discussions and feedback from the party have made it clear to me that I no longer have the necessary support to continue in office,” Nahles told party members.
“I sincerely hope that you will be able to restore trust and mutual respect again and find a leader you can support.”
One of the two established centrist parties, the SPD is at risk of being eclipsed by the Greens as younger voters look for a progressive alternative.
The party will also be aware that the Socialist party in neighbouring France has been almost completely wiped out as an electoral force in recent elections.
Nahles became party leader after the SPD only reluctantly agreed to enter a third alliance with Merkel after the party suffered its worst ever general election result in September 2017, securing just 20 per cent of the vote.
But the party’s support has continued to fall under Nahles, coming third in the European election with only 15.8 per cent, and falling to just 12 per cent in a weekend opinion poll.
“The party is split, there are many members who want to leave and many who want to stay,” said Ingrid Arndt-Brauer, an SPD MP. “The decision on that should not be rushed.”
Andrea Nahles. Picture credit: Wikimedia