Germany's Merkel makes breakthrough in bid to form coalition

13 January, 2018, 05:25 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Merkel strikes preliminary deal to hold power in German coalition

Negotiations to form a new German government cleared a key hurdle early Friday after the leaders of Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the Social Democrats reached a preliminary agreement to pursue formal coalition talks.

Germany now has a caretaker government, limiting Merkel's ability to launch major initiatives at a time when French President Emmanuel Macron has pressed for ambitious reforms in the European Union.

However, the parties managed to reach an agreement on yearly limits for refugee arrivals in Germany, according to the DPA news agency, defining the desired limit on the number of refugees coming to Germany stays within the range of 180,000-220,000 per year.

Germany's would-be coalition partners have made progress in talks on power-sharing, with draft documents showing they have agreed to support cleaner combustion engines, but on Thursday the two sides will tackle the issues that divide them most. But after coalition talks between Merkel and two other parties failed to find an agreement, the SPD changed its stance. The document reportedly covered the refugees' family reunification process, suspending it till a new law is adopted and aiming to finally cap it at 1,000 people per month. If she can win him over, Schulz will still have to rally support from membership at a special party conference later this month, which would then trigger another round of coalition talks.

On Europe, the agreement aims to kickstart the Franco-German tandem driving European Union policies and integration by welcoming France's president Emmanuel Macron's reform ideas.

Deep scepticism runs through the party, because of fears that to again govern in Merkel's shadow will force the SPD to betray its ideals and further damage its voter appeal.

Merkel is betting that after five days of talks, the parties will have laid the groundwork for the start of formal negotiations for a new coalition government with her at the helm for a fourth term in office.

"That's why I think we have a good chance", said Kuehnert.

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"The mood of the party rank and file with regards to a grand coalition is still grim".

"It is welcome that the goal of a United States of Europe, which sounds great and which perhaps sometime in the future can be a long-term objective, is not included in this coalition agreement", said Detlef Seif, the deputy European Union spokesman for Merkel's conservative parliamentary bloc.

The SPD's youth movement leader believes renewing an alliance with Merkel would deal a death blow to the Social Democrats, who suffered a historic low score in September's elections.

Germany also regularly comes under criticism over its massive trade surplus, the world's largest which swelled to around €250 billion a year ago.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called it a "significant, positive, forward-looking contribution" to the European policy debate.

With this agreement, Merkel has reproved her ability to resist - also physically - and to start arrangements late in morning.

The breakthrough in exploratory talks may avoid a minority government led-by Merkel or snap elections, but the new government can only be established after some procedures, and even obstacles.

However, as CDU/CSU's coalition negotiations with the Greens and the Free Democrats collapsed, Schulz saw an opportunity to push his pro-Europe, social agenda through.

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