The Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, could vote to legalize same-sex marriage as early as this week, after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s surprise announcement that she no longer objects to a vote on the measure.
Merkel, who had previously voiced reservations about marriage equality, and allowing gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children, was pressed on her opposition to equal marriage during a forum organized by a German women’s magazine, Brigitte, on Monday night.
The chancellor described having a change of heart recently after meeting a lesbian couple raising eight foster children. As a result, she said, she was now willing to allow a marriage equality measure to be introduced into parliament and would permit members of her Christian Democratic Union to vote their consciences.
While some conservative Christian Democrats are expected to vote against the measure, there is overwhelming support among Germany’s population and other major parties for equal marriage, making it likely to be approved.
Hours after Merkel’s comments, her main rival in the upcoming general election, Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats, said that his party would push through “Ehe für alle,” or marriage for all, “this week.”
We will push through marriage equality in Germany. This week.— Martin Schulz (@MartinSchulz) June 27, 2017
Although they are rivals for the post of chancellor, Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and Schulz’s center-left Social Democrats have been governing Germany in a coalition since 2013.
Civil partnerships between same-sex couple have been recognized in Germany since 2001, but the country’s Green Party announced earlier this month that it would not join any coalition unless same-sex marriage became legal. “Unless the discrimination against lesbians and gays on this point ends, you can’t count on our cooperation,” the Green politician Volker Beck said at the party’s conference in June.
On Tuesday, Greens in the Bundestag promised to push for a new law this week.
As Mathieu von Rohr, the deputy foreign editor of Spiegel, explained, Merkel’s move, on the eve of an election campaign, also looks like good politics. All of the parties she could form a governing coalition with would have made support for same-sex marriage a condition, and by allowing the measure to pass before voters go to the polls, Merkel seems to have removed it as a campaign issue.
7. Thus, Merkel elegantly gets rid of a possible campaign issue – lets same-sex marriage pass, but doesn't force her party to endorse it— Mathieu von Rohr (@mathieuvonrohr) June 27, 2017
9. SPD/Greens will try to take credit for it during election campaign, but some centrist/liberal voters might even give the credit to Merkel— Mathieu von Rohr (@mathieuvonrohr) June 27, 2017
At the same forum in which she made her remarks on marriage equality, Merkel was asked if she used Twitter to follow the twists and turns of the Trump Administration. The chancellor revealed that while she does not follow the American president on the social network, she does occasionally search for the term “Twitter Donald Trump” to get a dose of the madness.
A new poll from the Pew Research Center released on Monday found that Merkel is considerably more popular than Trump in 37 nations across the globe. While 42 percent of respondents expressed confidence in Merkel to “do the right thing regarding global affairs,” just 22 percent said the same of Trump. Almost three-quarters of those polled said they had no confidence in Trump, as opposed to under a third who doubted Merkel.
Merkel’s ratings, the pollsters found, “are particularly strong on the political left, even though she hails from the right-of-center.”