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Germany's SPD approves new coalition deal

December 4, 2021

The move brings Olaf Scholz one step closer to taking the reins from Angela Merkel as Germany's next chancellor. The two remaining coalition partners, the Free Democrats and Greens, have yet to approve the deal.

Olaf Scholz holds his hands over his mouth and smiles at the party congress
Scholz (right) is expected to be elected chancellor by the Bundestag on WednesdayImage: Hannibal Hanschke/REUTERS

Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted Saturday to approve the new coalition agreement which will see them govern together with the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP).

The accord received overwhelming support, with 598 delegates voting for it, seven voting against the plan and three abstentions. That corresponds to a 98.8% approval rate.

Likely future Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is still officially vice chancellor and finance minister under Angela Merkel, said Germany should "show the way" when it comes to overcoming global challenges.

"This is not about us, this is about the citizens of this country," said Scholz. "It is also about challenges on a global scale if we consider human-made climate change."

He said COVID-19 was "the most important first task that we have to tackle, protecting the health of the citizens and fighting the pandemic with all our might."

Scholz also called for a "completely new campaign" so that millions of people could be vaccinated "in this month of December."

Two parties must still approve plan

The new coalition has been named the "traffic light coalition" after the colors of the three parties: red for the SPD, yellow for the FDP and green for the Greens.

On Sunday, an FDP party conference will vote, and the Greens are currently polling their members. The result of the ballot is to be announced on Monday. 

Unlike the Greens and the FDP, the Social Democrats have not named who they plan to appoint to head up the various federal ministries under their control, including the interior, defense and health ministries. The SPD will also oversee labor and social affairs, construction and economic development.

The appointments are expected to be announced on Monday.

The new coalition has promised greater climate protection, economic restructuring, an increased minimum wage and new apartments to ease the country's housing squeeze.

The coalition deal, when sealed, will place Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in opposition in the parliament, known as the Bundestag, for the first time in 16 years — the duration of her tenure in office.

It will also bring the "grand coalition" era to a close, where the center-left SPD were the junior coalition partner to Merkel's center-right CDU.

Once all three parties vote to approve the coalition, the stage will be set next week for the new government to officially take power.

Germany's new government: Dawn of a modern age?

Pending approval from the FDP and the Greens, the coalition agreement could be signed on Tuesday.

Neoliberal FPD might block SPD's plans

DW political correspondent Nina Haase said the traffic light coalition could pose trouble for Scholz's agenda.

"With the business-focused FPD blocking some of the SPD's more social projects... there are going to be a couple of stepping stones to overcome," Haase said.

Scholz is expected to be elected chancellor by the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, and see his cabinet sworn in on Wednesday — thus bringing to a close the Merkel era.

mm, ar/rs (AP, dpa)