News & Politics

Merkel's Coalition Partner: Failure of CDU, SPD Talks Will Be 'Catastrophe' for Germany

Chairman of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer (l), chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Martin Schulz (r) and chancellor Angela Merkel (c) of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) speak at a press conference at the Willy-Brandt-House in Berlin, Germany, 12 January 2018. The leaders of CDU, CSU and SPD'aim to take steps towards reforming the grand coalition. Photo by: Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Horst Seehofer — the leader of the Christian Democrats’ (CDU) ally, the Christian Social Union — is calling on Angela Merkel and Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz to make sure that the talks between Merkel’s CDU and Schulz’s SPD are successful. Seehofer says the Social Democrats shooting down the results of the talks on Sunday would absolutely be a “catastrophe” for Germany.

When asked by German newspaper Bild whether he has faith in the SPD — which seems to be internally divided on the question of whether or not it should form a coalition with the CDU — Seehofer answered with “a firm yes.” Martin Schulz, he continued, “is currently fighting” for the coalition, “and the SPD has historically always taken responsibility” when doing so was necessary, he added.

However, if the party votes to end the talks and to abort the coalition on Sunday, Seehofer believes “it will be a political catastrophe for our country.” Seehofer thought Merkel would not be reelected chancellor: “[Germany would have] new elections and new coalition negotiations. I can only appeal to all involved to unite and form a new government. Everything else will be devastating for Germany.”

Clearly, Merkel agrees that CDU and SPD must form a new government. After all, she has already agreed to Schulz’s far-reaching plans to create a “United States of Europe.” During the failed talks with the liberal (per the European sense of the word, which closely fits the U.S. definition of “conservative”) FDP and the Greens (socialists with a focus on climate change), Merkel seemed to support the liberals’ point of view that a federal European Union would not be beneficial for Germany. After those talks collapsed, however, she has been giving über-federalist Schulz whatever he wants with regards to the European Project. Her only concern is that she remains chancellor.

Anybody who hoped that Seehofer would take a more conservative position is now disappointed. When push comes to shove, Seehofer will stand by Merkel. The CSU leader even explained in the interview that he’s not swayed by polls showing that the Grand Coalition can barely count on 50 percent support among voters. Supposedly, the coalition will be able to sway public opinion in the end. Or so he believes.

Of course, there is another possibility for Merkel and Seehofer besides forming a coalition with the European federalist and socialist Schulz: the CDU could form a minority government with, for instance, the classically liberal (conservative) FDP. The FDP and CSU/CDU are historically more aligned with each other than with any of the other parties.

Seehofer shot down that possibility, however. He argued that Germany “needs a stable coalition, not shuttle diplomacy.” To explain: if a minority government is formed by the CDU (or with one other party), Merkel will have to reach out to individual parties to align with on each individual new bill. In other words, she’ll have to create new, temporary coalitions whenever she wants to get something done.

This might appeal to real conservatives who understand that a restrained government is a good thing.

Seehofer did reach out to conservatives by saying he does not want Germany to become “Europe’s paymaster.” However,  that is the only logical result of the plans of Merkel and Schulz to create a Stabilization Fund. If their plans are implemented, the European Union will become a fiscal union. Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands will have to pay the bills of irresponsible member states (France, Spain, Italy, Greece).

Seehofer denied that in the interview, saying “there will be no liability for debts that others make in the future.” This is nonsense. Those countries will continue to take on new debts they can’t afford, meaning Germany and its West European friends will have to pay for them. If they don’t, those countries will collapse and undoubtedly take the rest of the EU with them in their fall.

However, European conservatives can stop hoping that the CSU will blow up the negotiations. Seehofer is not abandoning Merkel, even as she puts her personal interests above those of her country.