Saturday, 17 April, 2021


Merkel Kicks Off Make-or-Break Bid for New German Authorities

Merkel Kicks Off Make-or-Break Bid for New German Authorities Merkel Kicks Off Make-or-Break Bid for New German Authorities
Bennie Garza | 11 January, 2018, 18:38

The following content is sourced from external partners.

The chancellor, who commands wide respect overseas after more than 12 years in power, needs coalition talks to succeed to avoid further erosion of her personal authority and weakening of German global influence, not least in the European Union (EU).

"The mood is like the weather", Ralf Stegner, one of the SPD's deputy leaders, said as he gazed at the cloudy sky above Berlin ahead of yesterday's talks, as reported by Reuters.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed confidence Thursday that her conservative Union bloc would be able to find enough common ground with the centre-left Social Democrats to move toward formal coalition talks.

SPD leader Martin Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, made clear his priority was Europe. Chancellor Merkel has outright rejected the idea.

Michael Groschek, a negotiator for the Social Democrats, insisted that the coalition talks were "open-ended" and that the party would also tolerate a minority government if talks were to break down - an unprecedented event in modern German political history.

"We're fighting for that", he said in a video message, adding that the final day of exploratory talks would show "whether we can cut through the knot on these big issues".

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

Even if the two sides decide they have the basis for coalition talks, such negotiations would require the approval of a Social Democrat congress, and the party's leadership will have to overcome strong reservations among members.

More than three months after a federal election, a weakened Merkel is pinning her hopes for a fourth term as chancellor on successful talks with a wary SPD for a re-run of the "grand coalition" that ruled Europe's biggest economy from 2013 to 2017.

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.

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.

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. Some SPD members are also concerned that a new grand coalition would make the AfD the main opposition party.

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