Without a government, Germany can only tread political water.
But on Sunday, Germany's post-electoral flying circus pays a visit to the old West German capital.
Yesterday Schulz admitted that the party did not get everything on its wish list and vowed to extract more concessions in the formal coalition talks. Or should the party run for the hills?
It was Gabriel who set in train events that have led to the Bonn meeting, on which hinges Germany's political future - and, with it, that of Merkel. On election night, the roundly defeated Schulz announced that his party would definitely go into opposition this time round, and the universal opinion - for SPD members and pundits alike - was that this was the only real option.
But an initial surge in support fizzled and the Schulz SPD came to earth on September 24th with a bone-rattling 20.5 per cent, its worst result in nearly 70 years.
Schulz told his pro-European party on Sunday that an European Union revamp would be a key agenda item in a new grand coalition with the SPD, allowing Berlin to join French President Emmanuel Macron's plan for a makeover of the bloc.
Resistance to a renewed Merkel alliance was loudest among the SPD's left and youth wings, who complained the preliminary coalition agreement fell short of campaign pledges.
The leadership of the Social Democratic Party is trying to close party ranks and pave the way for a renewal of its grand coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union (both parties known as the Union) in the run-up to the SPD special congress on January 21 in Bonn. Martin Schulz, he continued, "is now fighting" for the coalition, "and the SPD has historically always taken responsibility" when doing so was necessary, he added. He needs unequivocal backing from his party's leadership committee to enter formal coalition talks. Across the aisle, he is seen not only as a politician who represents a younger generation, but also one who stands for certain principles and a political vision that integrates specific political projects and policies in a greater vision and political symbolism.
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The uncertainty has eroded her public standing after 12 years as the dominant leader of Europe, and she is now counting on the SPD, her coalition partner from 2013 to 2017, to once again agree to a tie-up.
"People, we aren't giving up the [party] just because we decide to govern with the others", she shouted, referring to the conservatives.
Put simply, last September's general election was a disaster for Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD). This is precisely why some SPD members are concerned about going into a new grand coalition.
"If the parties don't succeed in building a government with the Bundestag majority", he told Der Spiegel magazine, "they will be punished by voters".
However, the "yes" vote on Sunday means that Schulz will push on with talks to form a grand coalition.
The Jusos and the Left Party fear that the SGP and a socialist program will win growing support if there are new elections or if the SPD continues its despised coalition with the CDU/CSU, with the far-right Alternative for Germany leading the opposition.
Not everyone in Germany is impressed by this. "We would be punished even more at the ballot box next time round".