• Reuters

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Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) were forced on Tuesday to declare that a 3-year-old dog called Lima would not be allowed to vote with party members on a coalition deal with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, despite joining the party.

The top-selling Bild daily splashed a photo of a floppy-eared, brown-and-white dog wearing a red scarf, the SPD’s color, on Tuesday under the headline “This dog can vote on the grand coalition.”

Bild reported how Lima had received a party card after the newspaper made an application on the dog’s behalf to become a party member on Feb. 6. Personal details on the application included her sex and put her occupation as unemployed and her age at 21, in dog years.

“It is not about the dog Lima, but rather about how we at Bild proved how prone to falsification the SPD members’ vote is,” a spokesman for Bild wrote in an emailed statement. “People who wish to manipulate the vote on a ‘grand coalition’ through criminality could do just the same.”

All party members are entitled to vote in the postal ballot, which started on Tuesday and will end on March 2, on a coalition pact for Europe’s biggest economy. It could decide the future of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

If SPD members reject the deal, the SPD will not be able to share power with the conservatives, and either a new election or minority government is likely.

Andrea Nahles, expected to be chosen as SPD leader in April, was forced to respond to the question posed by Bild about whether manipulation of the vote was possible. “A dog can’t vote,” she said, adding that the party would look into legal steps if there had been deception over a party member’s identity.

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