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Leader of Social Democrats, Merkel’s Coalition Partner, Is Resigning

The announcement that Ms. Nahles would formally depart on Monday came after intense pressure from the left-wing section of her party, whose members view quitting Ms. Merkel’s government as the only chance to re-orientate the center-left Social Democrats. The party has bled support since first entering into the coalition with the conservatives, in 2005, losing support to both the leftist-environmentalist Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany, or A.F.D.

A nationwide poll released on Saturday showed the Greens emerging as Germany’s most popular political party for the first time since the party’s founding, in 1993. The Social Democrats came in third, behind the conservatives and one point ahead of the A.FD.

Although another poll released on Sunday showed the conservatives in the lead, the two surveys reflected the volatility of the political landscape in Germany, Europe’s largest economy and a source of stability over the past decade.

In an interview published on Sunday before Ms. Nahles’s announced departure, Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democrats who serves as Germany’s finance minister and vice chancellor, told the newspaper Tagesspiegel that the party had ruled out entering another governing coalition with Ms. Merkel’s conservative bloc, known as a “grand coalition.”

“Three grand coalitions in a row would not do democracy in Germany any good,” Mr. Scholz said. “Nobody would like to see the current coalition continued after 2021, not the people, not the conservatives and certainly not us Social Democrats,” he added.

Ms. Nahles, who served as labor minister in the Social Democrats’ previous coalition with the conservatives, helped to form the current coalition and has been critical to the government’s survival. Her departure raises questions about who, within her party, could fill that role.

The Social Democrats have failed to reinvent a modern narrative for the party’s traditional role as a champion of social justice and workers’ rights in the era of globalization and have struggled to define themselves in the shadow of the chancellor.

Ms. Merkel, who was awarded an honorary doctorate at Harvard University last week, was praised for introducing a minimum wage and same-sex marriage — both policies introduced by the Social Democrats.

Source: NYT > World

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