November 12, 2018 / 8:48 AM / a month ago

Merkel's coalition won't last the next year: SPD youth leader

BERLIN (Reuters) - The leader of the German Social Democrats’ youth wing said on Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition with the SPD will not survive the next year.

FILE PHOTO: Kevin Kuehnert of Social Democratic Party (SPD) attends a news conference to announce the results of the voting for a possible coalition between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Berlin, Germany March 4, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The awkward alliance has been marred by disputes about immigration and the fate of the domestic spy chief since it took office in March, coming close to collapse twice. Voters punished both Merkel’s conservatives and the SPD in two recent regional elections.

SPD youth wing leader Kevin Kuehnert, who campaigned against the conservative-SPD tie-up from the outset, said the SPD would be closely watching what happens when Merkel steps down as leader of her Christian Democrats (CDU) in December.

“Next year is full of (regional) elections and political developments that will have a big impact,” Kuehnert told Deutschlandfunk radio.

“I can hardly imagine us sticking together for the year. We have to use our time to prepare for the ‘D-Day’ of snap elections.”

Kuehnert said he hardly knew anyone who believed the coalition would survive to the end of this parliament in 2021.

SPD leader Andrea Nahles has said that the SPD leadership, under pressure from a restive membership over flagging polls and disastrous regional election showings, did not discuss quitting the coalition at a meeting last Monday.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the leader of Merkel’s Bavarian allies and a critic of her liberal asylum policies, told members of his Christian Social Union (CSU) that he wants to resign as party chief, party sources told Reuters on Sunday.

Seehofer has been a thorn in Merkel’s side for much of the past three years, taking a hard line on immigration.

Senior CSU member Manfred Weber told the newspaper Bild that Seehofer had said on Sunday that 2019 would be a year of renewal and the CSU leader would announce further details this week.

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Gernot Heller; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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