Merkel coalition shaken quits as SPD leader quits

Andrea NahlesImage copyright

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Andrea Nahles’ SPD suffered heavy losses in last week’s European elections

Andrea Nahles has announced she will resign as leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The politician has said she will quit as party leader on Monday, and as head of its parliamentary group on Tuesday.

It comes after the centre-left party came third, behind the Greens and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), in the European elections.

She had been heavily criticised by the SPD’s left for remaining in coalition with Ms Merkel’s party.

In a statement released by the SPD on Sunday, Ms Nahles said: “The discussions within the parliamentary faction and feedback from within the party have shown me that I no longer have the necessary support to carry out my duties.”

She had earlier announced that the leadership contest would take place on Tuesday.

Her resignation comes as a surprise. She became party leader in April last year, and was expected to run for the position again.

In last week’s European Union parliamentary elections, her party hit an all-time low, getting less than 16% of the vote.

And on Saturday, an opinion poll showed that support for the SPD was the lowest it had ever been, at just 12%. At the same time, the Greens were shown to have overtaken the conservative CDU as Germany’s most popular party for the first time.

What does this mean for the ruling coalition?

Ms Nahles’ resignation could threaten the current government.

In response to her resignation, the leadership of the CDU called for the continuation of the coalition between their party and the SPD – known as the grand coalition.

If the SPD were to quit the coalition, the fall of the government would be likely to trigger fresh elections.

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Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, of the SPD, speaks with Chancellor Angela Merkel

But the left wing of the SPD have been urging the party to leave the coalition since it entered into government with Ms Merkel last year. They say that compromising with conservatives has been losing them support.

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz, who is also Germany’s vice-chancellor, also told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that he has ruled out entering another such coalition.

“Three grand coalitions in a row would not do democracy in Germany any good,” he said in the interview published on Sunday, before Ms Nahles announced her resignation.

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