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The German Social Democrats’ long, painful road into coalition

Having initially ruled out joining the government, Martin Schultz’s party has performed a screeching U-turn. The long-term consequences for his party—and for Germany—could be severe

By Leopold Traugott  

Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/DPA/PA Images

“We are not available to join another grand coalition.” It was less than two months ago that Martin Schulz, leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), categorically rejected the idea of joining Chancellor Angela Merkel in government once more. After four years of grand coalition with Merkel’s conservative bloc of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), the three parties together lost 13.9 per cent of their vote share in last September’s federal elections. The SPD itself suffered its…

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