BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed on Wednesday that they wanted to renew their 2013-2017 ruling ‘grand coalition’ - but the fate of Europe’s largest economy is now in the hands of SPD members.
Here are some facts about the upcoming members’ ballot.
* The SPD has roughly 464,000 members who will get the chance to veto a grand coalition in a postal ballot. The party has said their vote will be binding. A ‘No’ would mean Germany faces a minority government or new elections.
* Many grassroots SPD members are skeptical about joining another alliance with Merkel, especially since its last four years as junior partner to Merkel’s conservatives since 2013 culminated in the SPD’s worst election result in the postwar period.
* More than 24,000 people joined the SPD between the start of the year and the Feb. 6 deadline to be allowed to vote on the deal.
* Many of the newcomers were encouraged to sign up by the SPD’s youth wing, the Jusos, which opposes another grand coalition. The Jusos fear such an alliance could herald a further drop in votes for the SPD while ceding the prominent role of largest opposition party to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
* After its heavy losses in September’s election, SPD leader Martin Schulz vowed that the party would go into opposition to revamp itself. It agreed to coalition talks with Merkel only after other options were exhausted, and with the stipulation that it would put any deal to its members.
It also conducted a members’ ballot before joining Merkel’s government in 2013.
* The postal ballot will run from Feb. 20 to March 2.
* The result is due to be announced on March 4.
Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Kevin Liffey