Germany's Social Democratic Party suffered another blow Monday after its leader in Hesse, Andrea Ypsilanti, found that she did not have enough support from within her own ranks to get elected as premier.
The SPD rebels made it clear that they would not support Ypsilanti's grab for power
Four SPD members revealed that they would not support a coalition agreement with the Green Party that was to be put to a vote in the state assembly in Wiesbaden on Tuesday. Even with the tacit support of the Left party, this would have left Ypsilanti three votes short.
The four dissident members told a press conference in the state capital that they could not in good conscience support the plan, under which the SPD and the Greens were to form a minority government. The Left party had agreed to keep the coalition in power by supporting it in key parliamentary votes.
Planned election cooperation in tatters
Ypsilanti was hoping that her plan would be a blueprint for a new national government
Some observers had seen Ypsilanti's plan to cooperate with the Left party, which is made up of disaffected former SPD member and former members of the East German communists, as a possible model for a federal government following next September's general election.
But this may not be the case after Ypsilanti failed in her second attempt to oust Christian Democratic Union Premier Roland Koch since last January's state elections failed to produce a clear winner. Since then, Koch's CDU has been governing the state on a caretaker basis.
The Left party is anathema to many western German voters due to their communist roots and the whole idea of cooperating with it has been hotly debated within the Social Democrats.
Dissenters derail SPD, anger party chairman
Muentefering was less than happy with the four rebels
Prior to the January state election, Ypsilanti and the chairman of the federal party, Kurt Beck, had ruled out cooperating with the Left Party. But they backtracked on the issue following the inconclusive outcome of the vote in Hesse. This was in part what forced Beck to resign as party leader two months ago.
The man who has since replaced him, Franz Muentefering, has lashed out at the four dissenters in Wiesbaden. Muentefering told reporters in Berlin that they had chosen the worst possible point to make their intentions clear. The coalition agreement was reached only after weeks of consultations between the SPD and the Green Party. He said the federal party executive had received the news with a mixture of "shock and disgust."
Muentefering also expressed confidence that events in the state of Hesse would have no impact on September's election, because the party had ruled out co-operating with the Left on the federal level.