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Germany: CDU Says No to Grand Coalition

Munich, 5 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Germany's governing Christian Democrats party have attacked speculation that the party might form a grand coalition with the opposition Social Democrats after the September elections.

The latest attacker is German Finance Minister Theo Waigel. In a television interview late yesterday, he said that neither he nor any other senior member of the present government would join a coalition with the Social Democrats and their leader Gerhard Schroeder.

He said that Chancellor Helmut Kohl has said frequently he would prefer to go into opposition than join with the Social Democrats . Waigel said that the entire party leadership shared this position.

If so, the leadership may be out of step with many voters. A poll published a few days ago by the newspaper Die Welt showed that 51 percent of respondents believed that a Christian Democrat-Social Democrat coalition would be best able to solve the country's problems. This is a 10 percent increase over the results of a similar poll taken by the same newspaper in February.

A common belief in Germany is that if the Social Democrats come out on top in the September voting they will try to form a coalition with the leftist environment party, the Greens. But polls taken in the past few days show growing doubts about such a solution. That a coalition government of some sort will be formed does seem to be the one certainty about the September elections.

Some senior Social Democrats Party officials have made clear that they believe a partnership with the Greens and their radical ideas would be a political disaster and should be avoided.

Commentators say these realities increase the possibility of a grand coalition, regardless of what Kohl, Waigel and other senior members of the Christian Democrats are saying in public.