The leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner SPD said yesterday she was resigning as her party’s chief, raising the possibility that Germany’s embattled government could collapse.
Andrea Nahles, who heads the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), has come under intense pressure after voters handed the party its worst outcome in European elections a week ago.
With an eye on three key state elections in eastern Germany in September, the SPD had initially planned to re-examine its partnership with Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU alliance in the autumn.
But ahead of a planned parliamentary leadership vote on Tuesday, Nahles said she would give up her jobs as both party chief and head of its parliamentary group.
“The discussions in the parliamentary group and the broad feedback from the party showed me that the support necessary for the exercise of my offices is no longer there,” said Nahles in a statement.
The 48-year-old said she hoped her resignation “would open the possibility that the succession can take place in an orderly manner”.
Harald Christ, deputy chief of the SPD’s economy forum, told the Bild daily however that Nahles’s decision had put the future of the coalition in serious doubt.
“To all those who are happy today: it is a great loss for German politics. Nahles stands for the existence of the GroKo -- whose stability is now in question,” he said, using the German short-form for grand coalition.
The alliance between Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the SPD has been fragile from the start. Stung by a election beating in 2017, the SPD had initially sought to go into opposition.
But it was reluctantly coaxed into renewing a partnership with Merkel, even as many within the party remain wary of continuing to govern in her shadow.