Germany's Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz has revealed that European leaders are urging him to join Angela Merkel's conservatives in a grand coalition government. The SPD has said it will not rush to a decision.
The head of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), Martin Schulz, revealed in an interview on Sunday that he had received numerous phone calls and text messages from France's Emmanuel Macron, urging him to form a ruling coalition with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc.
Speaking to Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Schulz also indicated that he would cherish the opportunity to work together with Macron and other European allies, saying that neither France nor Germany would be able to protect social democratic values on its own.
Although a long-time member of France's Socialist party, Macron has since gone on to form his own centrist party, La Republique En Marche (The Republic On the Move!) . Nevertheless, Schulz and Macron share similar visions for reforming the European Union, particularly when it comes to boosting investment into Europe and the creation of a new EU distribution fund.
Schulz also revealed that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had also urged him not to let "this deciding phase in Europe go to pass."
Tsipras reportedly told Germany's Social Democratic Party leader that he respected the SPD's initial decision not to enter into a ruling coalition government. However, the Greek leader stressed that being part of the Berlin government was "a precondition to fight together for the necessary progressive reforms and democratization of Europe, for social rights and a substantial battle against youth unemployment."
Little progress in 'GroKo' talks
Germany's Social Democrats have been reluctant to begin negotiations to form another so-called grand coalition of Germany's largest parties with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.
The SPD initially ruled out any part in a second-consecutive grand coalition after its poor showing in September elections.
However, the chancellor now finds herself under pressure to form a new government after talks with the Greens and Free Democrats broke down last month. Mathematically, only an alliance with the SPD would give her a majority in the Bundestag, meaning any failure to secure a deal with Schulz could lead to fresh elections or force her to attempt to form a minority government.
"The CDU cannot put itself out there and demand that the SPD agrees in the shortest possible time to form the next federal government," Malu Dreyer, the premier of the western German state Rhineland-Palatinate and SPD member, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
The Social Democrats' vice-chairman Ralf Stegner told the same newspaper he would be fine with coalition negotiations not beginning until January.
Meanwhile, Hans Eichel, former SPD finance minister under Gerd Schröder, speculated that a new grand coalition may prefer to only spend two years in power, rather than see through the full four-year term. Eichel said he wasn't drawn to idea of another CDU/CSU-SPD government, but said it was necessary from a European perspective.