BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) should reconsider their opposition to joining a new "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel's conservatives because Europe needs a stable government in Berlin, a senior ally of the European Union said on Thursday. chancellor.
Germany faces the worst political crisis of its modern history after Merkel's efforts to forge a tripartite coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP) and Greens collapsed last weekend, raising fears across Europe of a prolonged leadership void in the economic power of the continent.
The SPD has ruled in coalition under Merkel since 2013, but said it wanted to enter the opposition after suffering its worst result of the post-war period in the September 24 election.
Some in the SPD, however, now urge party leader Martin Schulz to reconsider, an opinion echoed on Thursday by Volker Kauder, leader of Merkel's conservative parliamentary group in the lower house of the Bundestag Parliament.
"Europe is waiting for a Germany capable of acting so that it can finally answer the questions posed by French President (Emmanuel) Macron, the economically strongest country in Europe can not be shown as a political dwarf," Kauder said.
He was referring to Macron's call for fiscal reforms to strengthen the euro zone.
"Therefore, it is my wish that the current partners in the coalition government can meet again," Kauder told the regional newspaper Suedwest Presse in reference to the SPD and the conservatives.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a former lawmaker and chancellor of the SPD, was scheduled to meet with the leader of the Schulz party at 1400 GMT on Thursday as part of his efforts to help facilitate a coalition government and avoid new elections
Merkel, who remains the rector until a government agrees, has said she would prefer to work with the SPD. If that fails, she would favor new elections over an unstable minority government.
Germany, the fourth largest economy in the world, has been a bastion of stability in the EU and officials in Brussels and Paris fear that months of political uncertainty will damage plans to reform the governance of the euro zone and defense policies and EU asylum.
"EVERYTHING ABOUT POLITICS"
Bild newspaper of mbad circulation reported on Wednesday that 30 members of the parliamentary group of 153 members this week had questioned Schulz's preference for entering the opposition during a meeting of the parliamentary party.
Speaking to ZDF television on Thursday, SPD vice-president Karl Lauterbach said his party might have to reconsider its opposition to another "grand coalition," but added that it was still skeptical about joining one led by Merkel. .
SPD lawmaker Johannes Kahrs, spokesman for a conservative wing in the party, urged Schulz to keep an open mind in his talks with the president.
"One should not rule out anything, and in the end it's all about politics," Kahrs told NTV television.
The SPD supports Macron's proposal to create a fiscal capacity in the euro area to protect members of the single currency bloc from external shocks.
Report by Michael Nienaber; Edition by Gareth Jones