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(Social) Democratic Coalition Seal in Germany

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Sigmar Gabriel (Photo by, Flickr)

(Social) Democratic Coalition Seal in Germany


The Social Democratic party vote to back the grand coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats in Germany was successful. 76 per cent of party members opted in favour of the coalition deal that their top party leaders had negotiated with the Conservative Party two weeks ago. The turnout was high at 78 per cent: Out of roughly 470.000 Social Democratic party members in Germany, 370.000 took part in the vote. The ballot by the Social Democratic Party was the first-ever democratic exercise of a political party to legitimise a coalition agreement at federal level in Germany.

The political board of the Social Democrats headed by Mr Sigmar Gabriel had announced to hold a party ballot before top leaders of the Social Democrats (SPD) and Conservatives (CDU and CSU) resumed coalition talks. At the German general elections of 22 September 2013, the Social Democrats had won 26 per cent of all votes while the Conservatives had got 42 per cent.

The decision-making proceeded by traditional post: Ballot papers and a copy of the coalition agreement were mailed to every SPD member before 6 December 2013. Within a week and no later than close of business of 12 December, the postal votes had to be returned. They were subsequently counted by 400 party members in Berlin. On Saturday, 14 December 2013, Sigmar Gabriel proudly declared the result. Following the democratic backing, today the "grand coalition deal" could be sealed and signed in Germany.

Open Green primaries at EU level

Another example of inner-party democratic decision-making are the ongoing primaries of the European Green party. The purpose is to elect the top candidates to run for the upcoming EU election campaign in spring 2014 and the office of EU Commission Presidency. The Green primaries are open: Everybody living in the European Union and older than 16 years can participate in the vote. The declared goal is to promote more European democracy and to close the gap between Europe’s citizens and the EU.

Further information:

Q&A on the SPD party vote (in German) at
On the Green primaries and online voting at

Text by Cora Pfafferott


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