Germany's SPD spells out coalition conditions but no decision until party conference

Schulz said he had telephoned the CDU leader to say that any such claims from her conservatives to the media would be viewed as "a breach of trust".

Noting that his party and Merkel's bloc continue to govern as a caretaker government, he said "we have no time pressure" and would "not rule out any options".

However, SPD party leadership announced that it would give a formal recommendation on how to proceed to its members by Monday.

Should it come to grand coalition negotiations, Schulz indicated he would push for the new government to become even more engaged at the European level, including standing behind French President Emmanuel Macron's push for broad reforms. We should talk about each of these options.

According to Schulz, the key demands of his party are a need to reform the European Union, improve healthcare, as well as the European Union and answer French President Emmanuel Macron's Eurozone reform proposals positively.

Bild daily reported earlier on Friday that the SPD had greenlighted coalition talks after discussions among Schulz, Christian Democratic Union's (CDU) leader Angela Merkel and Christian Social Union (CSU) leader Horst Seehofer on Thursday evening.

The meeting of the SPD's rank and file next Thursday will be a key date as Germany anxiously awaits signs of its next government.

The unusually testy tone Schulz struck is a reflection of the differences between conservatives and Social Democrats not just over the policies of a possible grand coalition, but whether even to try to form one at all.

A rebellion is already brewing over entering into a new grand coalition, known as "GroKo" in German. The SPD, which saw its participation in a Merkel-led coalition government from 2013-17 rewarded with its worst election result in German post-war history, had been strongly opposed to another "grand coalition".

"Leading the opposition is the SPD's youth wing, which on Friday launched an internet campaign with a motto "#NoGroKo - for a clear and credible SPD". Steinmeier and Merkel are both keen to prevent the need for re-elections, leaving a re-launch of the acting "grand coalition" between the CDU/CSU and SPD as the only plausible alternative.

  • Jon Douglas