The newly elected co-leader of the Social Democrats (SPD,) Norbert Walter-Borjans, cast further doubt on Sunday over the fate of the German ruling coalition, thereby boosting the chances of a general election in 2020.
As Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, also from the SPD, demanded significant policy concessions from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), they argued they were fully prepared to ditch the partnership if Merkel didn’t meet their calls.
Walter-Borjans told national broadcaster ARD that raising investments and scrapping temporary job contracts were issues that needed to be addressed without delay if Merkel wanted to give the coalition another chance.
He warned about the highly probable “decision” to scrap the coalition if their “partner takes an obstructive approach for these new tasks".
However, the likelihood of the concessions being made has been questioned by high-profile CDU members, with the prospect of renegotiations of the current terms ending up in the crosshairs of Armin Laschet, the CDU Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.
"Of course nothing will be renegotiated now. That's quite clear", he said speaking to Deutschlandfunk.
Further asked if there had been some progress on the concessions that the new SPD leadership seeks, Laschet said “there is no such thing".
A potential compromise on the current terms was also ruled out by CDU Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer:
"For the CDU it is quite clear: We stand by this coalition. We stand by this coalition on the basis that has been negotiated", the defence chief stated.
Kramp-Karrenbauer assumed the office of CDU head on 7 December 2018, succeeding German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The politician, however, does not enjoy wide support among Germans, according to various polls, much like the crisis-stricken CDU at large.
In June 2019, members of Germany’s Social Democrat (SPD) called for a three-way left alliance - a unified bloc that would make up an alternative to Chancellor Merkel’s “grand coalition” between the two largest parties given their poor election results.
Despite key victories for the party on migration and energy, the coalition suffered a blow in the European elections, obtaining just 16 percent of the vote.
Senior SPD figures suggested a left-wing alliance including the resurgent Greens, who are leading the governing conservatives in some polls, and The Left, a successor party to East Germany’s communists.
The new alliance is believed to potentially speed up Merkel’s exit and trigger either of the following three options: a snap general election, a minority government, or a fragile three-way coalition.