By Gernot Heller and Andrea Shalal

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) started counting the votes of a whole lot of 1000’s of celebration members who will determine if a brand new coalition below Chancellor Angela Merkel takes workplace, greater than 5 months after a common election.

With the SPD’s 464,000 members promised the ultimate say on whether or not to enter a brand new “grand coalition” together with her conservatives, 120 volunteers arrived at celebration headquarters to rely the truckloads of ballots delivered on Saturday afternoon.

“We already know there may have been a really, very excessive stage of participation,” mentioned the SPD’s appearing chief Olaf Scholz as he arrived forward of the rely.

His colleague Andrea Nahles mentioned she was looking forward to a “Sure” vote however admitted to feeling “a bit nervous”. Volunteers, having surrendered their telephones, will conduct the rely in strict secrecy. An announcement is predicted at 9 am native time on Sunday.

Germany, Europe’s financial powerhouse, has confronted months of uncertainty after voters returned a fragmented parliament. An earlier try to type a Merkel-led three-way coalition collapsed.

On the urging of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the SPD’s then chief Martin Schulz promised members the ultimate say on whether or not to repeat a “grand coalition” with Merkel’s conservatives after first asserting he would lead the celebration into opposition.

Rejection of one other tie-up with the conservatives “could be a catastrophe for Germany, the SPD and, above all, for Europe,” SPD lawmaker Thomas Oppermann advised Die Welt newspaper, forecasting that 55 p.c of members would again a coalition.

Merkel has seen a number of junior coalition companions come and go over 12 years in workplace, and lots of concern the SPD may dwindle into irrelevance if it props up her authorities for an additional 4 years.

The SPD’s Jusos youth wing has been lobbying celebration members to vote towards a re-run of the grand coalition, arguing they might do higher to rebuild in opposition after the celebration’s drubbing within the September election.

A “No” vote would throw the ball again into Steinmeier’s court docket, who may push the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), whose chief Christian Lindner torpedoed the sooner three-way talks, to have one other go.

However Lindner advised the Funke newspaper group, a brand new election could be the most effective answer if SPD members voted ‘No’.

On an alternative choice, a Merkel-led minority authorities, he mentioned the FDP would study legislative proposals on a case-by-case foundation, however added: “Such a authorities would in all probability solely final a couple of months anyway.”

Manfred Weber, deputy chief of the Bavarian CSU, sister celebration to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), additionally favored a brand new election within the occasion of an SPD “No” vote, arguing a minority authorities would impair Germany’s standing in Europe.

“Germany would take away itself as a critical think about Europe and the world,” he mentioned.

(Writing by Thomas Escritt; Enhancing by Janet Lawrence and Hugh Lawson)

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