Thursday 26 April 2018

German parties resume talks over coalition government deal

Extra time has been scheduled to reach a deal if the two sides cannot make an agreement on Monday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the headquarters of the Social Democratic party in Berlin (AP)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the headquarters of the Social Democratic party in Berlin (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

The prospective partners in Germany’s new government have resumed their push to nail down a coalition deal.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc and the centre-left Social Democrats originally set a Sunday deadline to wrap up talks on extending their alliance of the past four years, but budgeted two extra days as a precaution when formal negotiations started on January 26.

Two points that are important to the Social Democrats remain to be decided: curbing the use of temporary work contracts and attempting to narrow differences between Germany’s public and private health insurance systems.

“I assume that we can get this finally done today,” Volker Bouffier, a deputy leader of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told reporters as he arrived for the talks. “I’m not certain, but confident. We may need until early tomorrow.”

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Christian Social Union members wait to join the talks (AP)

Germany’s effort to put together a governing coalition after its September 24 election is already its longest since the Second World War.

Efforts will not end with these talks. A deal will have to be approved in a ballot of the Social Democrats’ members, many of whom are sceptical after a disastrous election result. That process will take a few weeks.

Mrs Merkel’s attempt to put together a government with two smaller parties collapsed in November. Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz, who had previously ruled out renewing the “grand coalition” of Germany’s biggest parties, then reversed course.

Failure to reach an agreement, or a rejection of the deal by Social Democrat members, would leave a minority government under Mrs Merkel or a new election as the only viable governing options.

Press Association

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