November 25, 2019 / 6:55 AM / 21 days ago

Number of grand coalition-opposed Social Democrats very small: finance minister

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, said he was optimistic that his party’s governing coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives will hold after a leadership vote.

“I am noticing that the number of those party members willing to exit the coalition without a good reason has become very small,” Scholz, a member of the Social Democrats, told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Monday.

Scholz, who is the frontrunner to become the Social Democrats’ co-chair next weekend, is being challenged by two candidates of the party’s more left-leaning branch.

His rivals have expressed scepticism toward the coalition. The Social Democrats, despite assuring a stable governing majority in Berlin, have served for years as Chancellor Merkel’s smaller coalition partner, diminishing the party’s electoral base.

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Christoph Steitz

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