Germany's Social Democrats vote to approve coalition agreement

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Germany's Social Democrats vote to approve coalition agreement
© Provided by dw.com Olaf Scholz, the likely next chancellor of Germany, will likely be sworn in as chancellor of Germany next Wednesday

Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted Saturday to approve the new planned coalition agreement with partners the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) during a party conference on Saturday.

A “Yes” vote was given by 598 delegates, with seven votes against the plan and three abstentions, which corresponds to a 98.8% approval rate.

Prior to the vote, likely future Chancellor Olaf Scholz and party leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans spoke. Scholz has served as vice-chancellor under Angela Merkel and finance minister since 2018.

Scholz said the COVID-19 pandemic was “the most important first task that we have to tackle, protecting the health of the citizens and fighting the pandemic with all our might.”

“A whole new campaign” was now necessary as soon as this month to improve the country’s vaccination rate, booster shot rollout, he added.

The speeches and vote took place with “Strict hygiene measures” at a “hybrid event,” according to DW political correspondent Nina Haase-Trobridge.

While SPD must approve the coalition deal, the other parties in the coalition must do so as well. The results of the votes cementing the coalition’s status will come Monday.

Who is in Germany’s next coalition?

The new coalition has been named the “traffic light coalition” after the colors of the three parties: red for the SPD, yellow for the FDP and green for the Greens.

Unlike the Greens and the FDP, the SPD has not named who it plans to appoint to head up the various federal ministries it will control, including the interior, defense, and health ministries. SPD will also oversee labor and social affairs, construction, and economic development.

The appointments are expected to be announced on Monday.

The new coalition has promised greater climate protection, to restructure the economy, a raise of the minimum wage and construction of new apartments to ease the country’s housing squeeze.

The coalition deal, when sealed, will place outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in opposition in the parliament, known as the Bundestag, for the first time in 16 years or the duration of her tenure in office.

It will also bring the “grand coalition” era to a close where the center-left SPD were the rather uncomfortable junior coalition partner to Merkel’s center-right CDU.

Once all three parties vote to approve the coalition, the stage will be set next week for the new government to take the helm of power.

If all parties approve Monday, the coalition agreement could then be signed on Tuesday.

Scholz is expected to be elected chancellor by the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, and see his cabinet sworn in, on Wednesday — thus bringing to a close to the Merkel era.

ar/rs (AP, dpa)

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