Merkel Lashes Out at SPD Ally in Warning of Ex-Communists

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lashed out at her Social Democratic coalition partner for joining the anti-capitalist Left party in a state government, underscoring her concern that the model could threaten her rule.

Merkel’s criticism was the sharpest yet since the Social Democrats, her junior coalition partner at the national level, helped elect Germany’s first Left-led government since the fall of the Berlin Wall in the eastern state of Thuringia on Dec. 5.

“The SPD’s conduct in Thuringia is a declaration of bankruptcy,” Merkel said to applause at a national convention of her Christian Democratic Union in Cologne, Germany, today. “Just how far does the SPD want to diminish itself?”

Merkel, who grew up under Communism in former East Germany, evoked the possibility that Social Democrats, Left and Greens could form a government like the one in Thuringia after national elections due by 2017. Other parties have keep the Left, the successor of former East German communists, out of power nationally since East and West Germany reunified in 1990.

It’s up to the CDU to make such a three-way alliance “impossible at the federal level,” Merkel said. “Only if we play to our strengths will we achieve this.”

Sigmar Gabriel, the national SPD leader, has said it would be “irresponsible” of his party to form such a government to lead Europe’s biggest economy.

Elections in September in Thuringia, one of 16 German states and the fourth-smallest regional economy, led to Merkel’s party losing power for the first time since reunification when the Social Democrats ended their state alliance with the CDU and backed Left premier Bodo Ramelow.

Coalition Math

Merkel won a third term last year as the CDU garnered the biggest voter share at a national election since 1990. She allied with the Social Democrats after her previous partner, the Free Democrats, failed to win seats in parliament.

Merkel said today she hoped the Free Democrats would return to parliament in 2017 as the partner of choice of the CDU. She also opened the door to a potential alliance with the Greens, citing the CDU’s potential interest in allying with the environmental party after the 2013 election.

Merkel was today returned as CDU chairwoman with support from 96.7 percent of convention delegates, compared with 97.9 percent in 2012.

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