Germany: Merkel launches coalition talks with Social Democrats

Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU), its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) sat down on Sunday (7 January)  to kick off five days of exploratory talks.

This week they want to finally revive the grand coalition that has been ruling the country since 2013. Some think this is Angela Merkel’s last chance at forming a coalition.

Merkel said she was optimistic that her conservative alliance and the SPD could agree to join forces and revive the “grand coalition” that has governed Germany since 2013.

The German chancellor has to bet heavily on forming a coalition with the SPD to extend her 12 years in office after attempts to form an alliance with two smaller parties failed last year.

SPD leader Martin Schulz said that while the outcome of the talks was uncertain, his party would enter them constructively.

“We won’t draw any red lines – rather we want to push through as much red politics as possible in Germany,” said Schulz, referring to the party’s colour.

Yet policy differences between the CDU/CSU and SPD, as well as stiff opposition to a renewed coalition among some SPD members, have cast uncertainty ahead of the discussions.

If the two parties find enough common ground and the SPD gets backing from its members in a vote, the two sides will proceed to full-blown coalition talks, which could last until March.

However, if the discussions fail, Germany could be launched into new elections or for the first time in the post-war era be ruled by a minority government led by Merkel.

The 63-year-old chancellor has been struggling to form a new coalition government since the September 24 national election. Despite getting the most votes, the CDU and CSU  performed worse than in previous elections. The vote marked the first-time entry of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) into Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag.

Austin Ohaegbu with agency reports

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