The Social Democratic Party or SPD is a left-center party in Germany. From 2005 to 2009 it formed a "grand coalition government" (a coalition between the two largest parties) with the rival CDU. In the German elections in 2009, the SPD suffered a historical loss of 9,2 % of the vote, reaching only 23 % in total. This gave the CDU (which reached 33,8% combined with its sister-party CSU) the possibility to form a conservative coalition with the 'Liberal Democratic Party of Germany', the FDP. This was considered a 'dream marriage', as opposed to the 'shotgun marriage'-coalition with the SPD.
Current leader of the SPD is Sigmar Gabriel, succeeding Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who had been vice chancellor and minister of foreign affairs during the grand coalition. The SPD is a member of the Socialist International.
The SPD approached the problems of German reunification and the establishment of a European Defense Community (EDC) on the assumption of the possibility of peaceful coexistence between the USSR and the Western powers. The SPD objected to the EDC, preferring to find an answer to the problem of security through the UN. According to the SPD, the EDC would give the Soviet Union an excuse for blocking German reunification. The SPD feared that the policies of Robert Schuman in France and of Germany's Konrad Adenauer would result in the domination of Europe by Catholics and conservatives, and therefore the SPD sided with Pierre Mendès-France, the French premier, on the question of Western military integration, while continuing to give priority to German reunification.
After the Cold War
Many far-left extremists in the SPD critized the then leader Gerhard Schröder and formed the party "Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative". In 2007 it merged with the "Party of Democratic Socialism", that is the follower of the "Socialist Unity Party of Germany". The followed party is called "The Left". Since the SPD is in opposition it built a coalition with the ecologic party "Alliance '90/The Greens". Its candidate for the election in 2013 is Peer Steinbrück.