The president of the German Social Democrats on Thursday preached in front of his party in Congress opening talks with Angela Merkel on a future government, but by setting firm conditions, including reforms in Europe.
“We must not govern at all costs, but we must not refuse at all costs to govern,” Martin Schulz, the former President of the European Parliament, told 600 delegates in Berlin for three days.
“What is decisive is what we can impose” of the electoral program of the Social Democrats, he said, to try to convince reluctant militants to form a new alliance with the German conservatives.
Delegates must say by a vote early this evening whether they agree to open exploratory talks with Angela Merkel’s conservatives to try to pull Germany out of the political stalemate that has raged for several months.
– Divisions –
Mined by a historic debacle in the parliamentary elections of September 24, the SPD has initially assured to want to do a cure of opposition. He refused a new alliance with the conservatives of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and his Bavarian ally CSU, as he did twice (2005-2009 and 2013-2017) already with Ms Merkel at the head of the government.
But after the failure last month of an attempt to form a government between the political family of the Chancellor, the Liberals and the Greens, the SPD found itself back to the wall: there is more than this alliance option to the Chamber of Deputies.
The party leadership finally gave the green light to discussions. But the Social Democrats remain divided and hesitant between renewing the outgoing coalition, with participation in the government, support from outside a minority Conservative government, or refuse to even call an early poll.
In a long speech largely devoted to Europe, Martin Schulz emphasized the “responsibility” of the SPD in times of political crisis.
“We want to lead discussions without prejudice on their outcome,” he said. “It’s the content that counts, not the form” of a possible agreement, he insisted.
The Social Democrats put pressure on Mrs Merkel, particularly on Europe.
– United States of Europe –
Taking up the pro-European impetus of the French President Emmanuel Macron’s presidential campaign, Mr Schulz said on Thursday that he wants to build “the United States of Europe” by 2025, thanks to the establishment of ‘a European Constitution’ that allows a federal Europe “.
An idea recently welcomed by the Chancellor. Priority must be given to the EU’s “capacity for action” through better state cooperation by 2025 and “not to defining an objective” like the United States of Europe, she said in Berlin.
While Ms Merkel has so far still not responded to reform proposals from France or the European Commission, Mr Schulz has explicitly supported Mr Macron’s proposals.
“We need a European finance minister,” he said.
“We do not need a European diktat for savings, but investments in a euro area budget,” added Schulz, while German conservatives, committed to fiscal orthodoxy, are very skeptical.
Merkel and her family fear the establishment of such a common budget that can lead to a pooling of public debt, a prospect that the Chancellor has called a red line.
In case of rejection of the opening of talks Thursday by the Social Democratic delegates, the Chancellor will have to resolve either to form a minority government, or the holding of early elections. They would be unprecedented since the post-war foundation of the Federal Republic.
If the Social Democrats decide to start talks with the CDU and its Bavarian ally CSU, the establishment of a fourth government led by Angela Merkel should nevertheless take long months.
Discussions should only be in the thick of things in January. In the event of a government agreement, it will in any case be subject to the activists of the SPD, reserved on the opportunity of a new “grand coalition”.