Germany faces problems in forming a coalition

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On Sunday, four months after Germany's inconclusive federal election, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) faces a crunch party vote in Bonn on whether to endorse formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Around 600 delegates met at the special party congress in Bonn to debate and vote on whether their leaders should push ahead with formal coalition talks on renewing an alliance with Ms Merkel's conservatives that took office in 2013.

In power for all but four of the last 20 years, many SPD left-wingers and younger members want time and space in opposition to find answers to these existential questions.

A coalition that smacks of desperation and political fatigue is on the verge of ruling Germany again.

In the event, "Merkel fatigue" set in, as did many Germans' desire to punish her for having opened the borders to a million asylum seekers in 2015. Martin Schulz, he continued, "is now fighting" for the coalition, "and the SPD has historically always taken responsibility" when doing so was necessary, he added.

Many Social Democrats have voiced fears that should their party become part of a new coalition, the anti-migrant nationalist Alternative for Germany party would be left as the country's largest opposition party.

"If the party rejects a coalition it will lead to new elections, and fast", Mr Schulz said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine. An official statement from the Jusos warns: "The last few years and a look at neighbouring European countries teach us that whoever paves the way for a grand coalition based on short-term stability risk their own political existence in the medium term".

A vote in favor would signal that Germany's political center is holding and point toward an exit from a deadlock that's held up policy-making in Europe.

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Sunday's SPD vote is an immediate hurdle.

Attention now shifts to Merkel and fellow leaders of her CDU, who were due to meet in Berlin later Sunday to assess the outcome of the vote.

Social Democratic party leader Martin Schulz told delegates that during the upcoming talks, he'd fight for more concessions on health, labor and refugee policies.

SPD MPs are largely behind another grand coalition. The party has, for years, seen its popularity slide, most dramatically in September's general election - by which time it had served in a coalition for eight of the 12 years of Merkel's rule - when it scored its worst result for nearly 80 years. Schulz's problem is that he has not even tried to develop and argue for a coherent new identity for the SPD, but has rather left the hard decision to voters, the President or now, to the delegates and members of the SPD.

The bloc's two most powerful leaders also talked up the prospect of agreeing major reforms to the crisis-hit eurozone. Previous attempts by the chancellor to join with other German political parties in a governing coalition failed.

"The message of this government would not be one of a new beginning, but one of pragmatism and responsibility", said Josef Janning, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

"I'm asking for your trust", Schulz told the delegates, adding that turning away from further coalition talks would be "reckless".

Schmidt caused worldwide controversy and a major row in Germany's government coalition in November by unexpectedly backing a European Union Commission proposal to permit use of glyphosate for the next five years despite a heated debate over whether it causes cancer.

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