“GRAND coalitions have the feel of perverse sex acts,” Willy Brandt is said to have opined. The great Social Democratic (SPD) chancellor’s point was that broad alliances of the centre-right and centre-left are unnatural and best avoided. With one short exception, that is what post-war German politicians did until 2005. But since then, thanks to a fragmenting party landscape, Angela Merkel has led two grand coalitions. On February 7th her centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the SPD announced that they had agreed to form yet another.

It was not the chancellor’s first choice. All three parties lost ground in last September’s election and the CDU/CSU had initially negotiated with the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens. But those talks collapsed in November. With some coaxing from Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s president, the SPD agreed to talks, though only reluctantly.

The resulting 177-page agreement speaks to Brandt’s scepticism. It offers…Continue reading
Source: The Economist – Europe