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Merkel successor calls SPD coalition partners selfish

December 8, 2019

CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer accused the SPD of using the coalition as "trauma therapy" for its declining support. She said she expected the Social Democrats to honor the coalition agreement.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), on Sunday criticized the new leaders of her party's coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).

Kramp-Karrenbauer said in an interview with German media that the new SPD leadership's attempt to push the government more to the left was selfish and that the center-left party was thinking more of its future political success than of Germany.

"Just like you can't be a little bit pregnant, you can't rule a little bit," Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper in reference to the new SPD co-leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans.

Esken and Walter-Borjans were elected by SPD members as the new leaders last week, and their win was confirmed this weekend at the party's national convention in Berlin.

The pair beat establishment candidates Olaf Scholz and Klara Geywitz. Unlike their rivals, Esken and Walter-Borjans have expressed skepticism about remaining in the governing coalition, and said they would seek concessions from the CDU on increasing the minimum wage, climate policy and investment.

'The coalition is not trauma therapy'

"This coalition is for the country, not trauma therapy for ruling parties," Kramp-Karrenbauer said, alluding to the SPD's declining support and stressing that the Social Democrats had entered into a coalition agreement with the CDU in 2018 and that she expected both parties to honor the deal.

Her interview set a tense tone ahead of coalition talks this week, especially considering that the SPD adopted a more leftist agenda at its Berlin summit.

However, after Esken and Walter-Borjans walked back some of their strongest comments condemning the coalition, the government is likely safe for now.

But Kramp-Karrenbauer has rejected a number of points that the SPD asked the coalition to reconsider. She said that expert committees, not politicians, should offer advice about minimum wage. She also cited the coalition's September agreement about climate policy — criticized by many as lacking ambition — as a commitment that the party had only recently made.

es/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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