Exploratory coalition talks between Germany’s major parties end ahead of crucial decision

Exploratory coalition talks between Germany’s major parties end ahead of crucial decision

The initial phase of talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and Martin Schultz’s Social Democrats (SPD) end today—the parties

Merkel Schulz coalition talks

Photo: DPA

The initial phase of talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and Martin Schultz’s Social Democrats (SPD) end today—the parties will now decide whether to proceed to formal coalition negotiations.

Although both parties have agreed to a media blackout while talks are underway, reports suggest both have agreed to drop the 2020 carbon reduction target, establish national high-speed internet infrastructure by 2025 and to implement skilled migration targets. Mr Schultz has described having “a good discussion” on European Union reform—a potentially contentious subject as he supports the so-called ‘United States of Europe’, a concept by which Brussels would control much of the foreign and domestic policies of EU member-states. Chancellor Merkel has outright rejected the idea.

SPD members will decide whether to proceed with formal talks on January 21. That vote will likely depend on whether rank and file members are satisfied that the party will have greater influence in a new government than in the previous grand coalition. Given the enormous pressure on Ms Merkel to form a government—therefore avoiding another election where populists could make further gains—this appears more likely.