Tortured Death of Germany's Grand Coalition


Germany's Grand Coalition has been on life support for years. Will SPD finally put the coalition out of its misery?

SPD Leadership Contest Surprise

Two little-known left-wingers emerged as surprise winners in an SPD leadership vote on Saturday.

SPD is the junior partner in what's left of Chancellor Angela Merkel's no longer "grand coalition".

Renegotiate the Deal

The Guardian reports New Co-Leaders of Junior Coalition Partner Want Major Concessions From Merkel’s CDU.

Germany is facing the prospect of months of political uncertainty with the collapse of the coalition, which has been fragile since its inception after the 2017 election, a growing likelihood. It also raises the prospect that Merkel, who has said she will not run for another term in office, will face an earlier exit from the political stage than she intended.

Walter-Borjans and Esken narrowly secured first place in the SPD leadership vote on Saturday on 53%, beating the expected winners Olaf Scholz, the finance minister and vice-chancellor, and Klara Geywitz by eight points in a second-round runoff.

The result, delivered on a 54% turnout of the 425,000 SPD members, was a blow to Scholz, one of the architects of the grand coalition, and is widely seen as a vote of no confidence in him. The immediate focus is now on Scholz. If he decides he has to resign from his ministerial roles as a result of the defeat, the coalition would in effect be over, even if an election would not happen until well into next year.


Among their main demands are an increase in the minimum wage from €9 an hour to €12 and a backtrack on the government’s central fiscal policy of balancing the federal budget, known as the “schwarze Null” or the “black zero”, to allow for more spending on infrastructure and welfare programmes. They are also calling for a more radical approach on the climate emergency.

The CDU has made it clear it is unlikely to accept such demands. Speaking after the result, Paul Ziemiak, the party’s general secretary, said: “Our aim is to govern Germany well, and the foundations for this are in our coalition agreement. This internal decision by the SPD changes nothing in this regard.”

If the coalition dissolves, Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, would have to choose whether to resign, call a confidence vote, or attempt to lead a minority government under her leadership or that of someone else within the CDU, or to start negotiations over the formation of a new government.

The Financial Times says SPD Result Heralds the End of Germany’s ‘Grand Coalition’

It is not only the era of Ms Merkel, chancellor since 2005, that is drawing to an end. So, too, is the era of “grand coalitions” uniting her Christian Democratic party with the SPD.

Actually, the grand coalition effectively ended years ago.

But SPD and CDU still remain at the deathbed refusing to admit the patient has already died.


Perks. It's tough to give up limousines, big salaries, and other perks.

Even following this electoral surprise, it's still unclear if the new leaders or Scholz will officially call in the coroner to state the obvious.

Meanwhile, let's look at the polls for coalition replacement possibilities.

Germany Election Polls

The Union is CDU/CSU. Thus, the alleged grand coalition would get about 41% of the vote.

Coalition Possibilities

  1. CDU/CSU has ruled out a coalition with AfD. Besides, CDU/CSU + AfD + FDP only totals 48%.
  2. CDU/CSU + the Greens total 49. That total could get over the line. But the Greens would have to agree to be the junior player and they would place huge left-wing demands on CDU/CSU.
  3. CDU/CSU + SPD + FDP totals 49. But even if such an arrangement could top 50%, SPD has demands that neither CDU/CSU or FDP would accept. Besides, SPD is sick of these coalition governments with CDU/CSU as the senior partner.
  4. CDU/CSU + the Greens + SPD would total 63 but both the Greens and SPD would have even more demands CDU/CSU could not accept.
  5. The Greens + Die Linke + SPD would total 44. That's not enough. Besides, neither party wants to deal with the radical left Die Linke.

The coalition that makes the most sense position-wise is number 1. However, CDU/CSU has ruled that out. Then again, Merkel will be gone so there's a chance such a coalition will be in play.

Q: Why?

A: It's the perks, stupid. Free limos and all sorts of goodies for the government in power.

CDU/CSU Unpleasant Choice

CDU/CSU will have a choice to make: Agree to give the Greens huge concessions or enter a government with AfD.

It's not entirely CDU's choice. The Greens might not want to go along.

Who Holds the Winning Cards?

If CDU/CSU or FDP refuses to enter a government with AfD, then the Greens will hold the cards one way or another.

Possibly the Greens and SPD would be willing to hold their noses and enter a left-wing government with Die Linke, if necessary.

I believe you know the reason. Perks.

In any left-wing government, the Greens would be the senior partner. Thus, the Greens have every reason to not enter an arrangement with CDU/CSU unless they get major concessions.

Meanwhile, the coroner is knocking on the door. Will SPD or CDU let him in, or will they continue this tortured death at the risk of Greens and AfD strengthening further?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (30)
No. 1-7

They won't let the coroner in. They rather die slowly. There is a verb for it: "merkeln".


You can rule out any agreement with AfD. Across Europe the game is the same, keep the nationalists out at all costs. Everything is subsidiary to that goal.


One of the problems with all these dream team theories is that they assume that any given party's vote would remain solid if it entered into a coalition. Protest votes, which probably underlie much of the Green's popularity (or SPD's), can pop like soap suds when brought into contact with increasingly unpopular parties like the CDU/CSU. I'd bet on the AfD and die Linke attracting more true believers, which might be a good reason for no-one to want to work with them.

It's looking as though Germany, like many other Western states, is becoming increasingly difficult to govern, because more people want to join the opposition to anything the government does (whatever that is) than cooperate, or at least tolerate. It's like a bunch of sour children: whatever it is, they're against it.


Politics goes in cycles that is why the UK election is important. It is obvious that the Reagan-Thatcher revolution has run its course. We are on the cusp of a new orthodoxy. If Corbyn , big if, becomes Prime Minister then Europe will break left. This is because it will show that a left wing party can win if it goes left enough. That will be a huge thing for all of Europe. There is a paradox at work here. Corbyn is profoundly conservative with a little "c". Don't laugh, he wants a return to what he considers a better time, when boomers, and I am a boomer, were told that the world was our oyster, all you needed was a good education and the future was golden. I benefited from this. I was paid £16 per week, when colliers were on £35, to study. The radicals have been on the right. Forever changing everything, crushing Trade Unions, removing restrictions on finance forever reforming reforming never standing still. Trickle down will provide us all with everything. Except that trickle down never happened. Billionaires only need one washing machine per house that they own, there is only so much money that they can spend, the theory of surplus value kicks in with a vengeance. If Corbyn wins it means hello to a left wing Europe, hello President Sanders and goodbye to the current orthodoxy.

11 Replies


"If Corbyn wins it means hello to a left wing Europe, hello President Sanders and goodbye to the current orthodoxy."

Or, to put in another way: Goodbye Peron, Welcome Chavez.

Or, yet another way: Same shit, another day. Just the color of the propaganda pamphlets, and the specific excuses employed for robbing and harassing people switched up a little bit. Perhaps theft slightly shifting from being executed by debasement, towards more direct taxation. Or, given how the idiots are told to fall and cheer for MMT these days, perhaps not even that.

In either case, thank goodness the Muzzies still grant women the freedom to be women, rather than just more indoctrinated stooges in some totalitarian progressive machine headed for hell and ruin. Someone's got to inherit the earth, and it may as well be the least of evils.


Or to put it another way goodbye to prats who think that the way to deal with mass murder in American schools is to arm teachers. Only in America.


Milton Friedman made the obvious point, that you cannot have open borders and universal benefits. Corbyn is proposing exactly this. Logically this cannot stand and the consequences of even attempting this are pretty horrible to think through.

Given that, I wonder why you think that Europe will follow in Corbyn's footsteps?


Because politics goes in cycles, I believe that if he wins then a dam breaks. I am in no way a Corbyn fan, you should know that by now.

Rupert DeBare
Rupert DeBare

There have been TWO radical shifts in the British political economy over the last century : a Socialist revolution in 1945 that launched the welfare state but ended in bankruptcy and industrial chaos ; and the conservative Monetarist revolution of 1979, which restored sanity to the nation's industrial relations, and competitivity to its economy - though at considerable human cost. For the last 25-odd years we have had, in effect, the same centrist social democratic capitalist government, albeit under changing party-political labels.

Deep Purple
Deep Purple

Thanks for this.

In my view, the next stage of the cycle is chaos. Violent chaos from 1914 to 1945 (war, civil war and genocide) was the cause and origin of the welfare state in Europe. I think we cannot avoid this kind of thing again... Brexit and the yellow vests are just the intro.

As for Corbyn, I have sympathy for him but he would be a lame duck as PM. The neoliberal establishment would resist him as much as the right. By the way, I think the situation is similar for Johnson. He would be a lame duck, too, just like he was before the election. This is the bitter irony of the whole election charade.


"and the conservative Monetarist revolution of 1979, which restored sanity to the nation's industrial relations, and competitivity to its economy"

Exactly what "industry" is Britain competitive in again????? Chav production?

While Thatcher may have meant well, the only change the "monetarist" movement brought about, or more accurately passively rode, was the effect of the Bretton Woods breakup; which allowed them to continue stewing in the same increasing dysfunction as before; while thinly covering it up, for awhile and for an ever dwindling connected few, with out of control borrowing and printing.

That's it. Nothing good. Nothing beneficial. Nothing competitiveness improving. Plain nothing. Just printing of money and handing it to useless leeches too darned incompetent to be able to manufacture a sandwich.


Leave it to a Brit to advocate for the Chamberlain approach to dealing with mass murderers...


Typical American, late to the party.

Rupert DeBare
Rupert DeBare

You can't compete when your business has been besieged and closed by the actions of a Communist-led trade union ; workers can't effectively oppose strike action without the right to vote on it - in a PRIVATE ballot. So management constantly caved in, knowing that government financing would ensure some kind of survival. Consequence : inflation and lack of investment. Margaret Thatcher broke this cosy death-spiral. She turned off the money taps and let the zombie companies collapse ; the sensational rise in unemployment that followed weakened the unions and ultimately tamed inflation. But let the left-wing Guardian have the last word :

"As far as her supporters are concerned, this radical transformation worked. Britain ceased to be the sick man of Europe and entered the 1990s with its reputation enhanced. The economy had become more productive, more competitive and more profitable. Deep-seated and long overdue reforms of the 1980s paved the way for the long 16-year boom between 1992 and 2008.

To her detractors, Thatcher is the prime minister who wiped out more than 15% of Britain's industrial base with her dogmatic monetarism, squandered the once-in-a-lifetime windfall of North Sea oil on unemployment pay and tax cuts, and made the UK the unbalanced, unequal country it is today.

The truth lies somewhere between these extremes."

Larry Elliott


Shenanigans play ordinary people as fools.

Slowly "populations" are waking up and seeing the show for what it is - not run for them, a sort of game show.

Are most people political? I suspect not. The more alliances behind closed doors the wider the gap between voters and rulers.



It is beyond absurd to label Corbyn, a clear Marxist, as conservative in any way.


Hey, Avid Remainer: Corbyn's economics have failed in Eastern Europe, former USSR, former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Viet Nam, China, N Korea. There are still a few Marxist hell holes in the world. Why don't you move to Zimbabwe or Venezuela, or Cuba instead of wishing that horror on the US, UK and rest of Europe without personally trying it out? Experience it for yourself before making your decision. There you will find crushing poverty and oppression for all. True equality achieved.