German Social Democrats put revolution on hold

New party leaders said they would ditch the ‘grand coalition’ with Merkel’s conservatives, but have already changed course.


BERLIN — Germany’s Social Democratic revolution will not be televised.

After party members upended conventional wisdom by electing a pair of avowed opponents to the SPD’s alliance with Angela’s Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), the collapse of Germany’s so-called grand coalition seemed merely a matter of when, not if.

Turns out the new leftist leadership duo — Saskia Esken, an MP from the Black Forest, and Norbert Walter-Borjans, a former regional minister — is less resolute than supporters believed.

In the 48 hours leading up to the SPD’s annual party convention, which begins Friday, the pair backed away from a pledge to lead the party out of the coalition, or GroKo as it’s known in Germany, if the CDU didn’t embrace certain conditions.

Instead of delivering their list of take-it-or-leave-it demands to CDU headquarters, however, Esken and Walter-Borjans opted to propose a series of “improvements” to the existing coalition agreement, which serves as a blueprint for the government’s agenda until the end of the legislative period in the fall of 2021.