German coalition talks enter crunch stage amid ongoing setbacks

Lester Mason
January 11, 2018

"Of course we also have in mind that we have to create a good policy platform for our country. So it's going to be a tough day" (Reuters).

"There are still big obstacles on the path that need to be cleared", she told reporters as she arrived for talks on forming a new "grand coalition" government between her conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD).

Schulz has called for a United States of Europe by 2025 - an idea rejected by senior conservatives, many of whom are wary of such ambitious reform plans they fear could see Germany funnel more of its taxpayers' money to other European Union states.

Klingbeil added: "The global political situation, the situation in Europe, the composition of the German Bundestag, all that show that we find ourselves in a new era".

But the three parties have clashed over immigration, Europe and finance.

With Europe's dominant country and biggest economy stuck in more than three months of post-election stalemate, the acting chancellor's Christian Democratic-led bloc and the rival SPD began exploratory talks on Sunday amid a growing sense that their political futures are at stake.

Participants have described the negotiations as "good", but SPD leaders need to convince their party members as they are offering them a vote on January 21 on whether to proceed.

The country hit 108 days without an elected government after the parliamentary election on September 24, the longest period since the the Second World War.

Senior officials from the SPD, Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have been holding exploratory talks this week on whether to pursue formal coalition negotiations.

Schulz previously opposed a repetition of the "grand coalition" of the previous term, blaming it for his party's losses in the September 24 election. Some SPD members are also concerned that a new grand coalition would make the AfD the main opposition party.

However, after Merkel's first attempt to form a ruling coalition government with the Free Democrats (FDP) and Green Party failed back in November, another coalition with the SPD remains the only feasible option open to the chancellor, aside from the never-before-used option of a minority government.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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