German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) reached a coalition deal on February 7. The two parties agreed on a soft cap that would accept 200,000 refugees per year and achieved a governing framework. However, POLITICO notes that the SPD’s membership of 400,000 still must vote to ratify the coalition deal, the failure of which would likely result in another federal election.
According to Der Spiegel, nearly half of the potential new cabinet members are Social Democrats, including SPD leader Martin Schulz as Foreign Minister and Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz as Finance Minister. These two ministries have substantial control over national and European policy. Schulz also announced that he intends to resign as SPD leader, turning the position over to Andrea Nahles, the former Minister of Labor and current SPD parliament faction-chief. The coalition agreement makes additional concessions to the Bavarian wing of the CDU, known as the Christian Social Union, handing over the prominent Interior and Transport ministries.
Germany had been under a caretaker administration of the CDU and SPD, which together formed the previous government, since the federal election on September 24, 2017. In the election, the Bundeswahlleiter reported that the CDU went from winning 41.5 percent of the vote to onlly 33 percent, but still came in first. The SPD fell to only 20.5 percent, its lowest result since the SPD’s founding. Both parties lost voters to the liberal Free Democratic Party and the far-right Alternative for Germany. Alternative for Germany placed third, becoming the first far-right party to win seats in the German parliament since the Second World War.