German parties agreed ‘in principle’ on coalition deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel walks past photographers before the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Vastavam web: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats agreed ‘in principle’ on Wednesday on a coalition deal, sources involved in the talks said, taking Europe’s economic powerhouse a step closer to a new government.The agreement will lift much of the uncertainty that has weakened Germany’s role in international affairs and raised questions about how long Merkel will stay in her job.

However, any deal is subject to approval by the SPD’s 464,000 members in a postal ballot before their party can move ahead and join another coalition with Merkel after serving as her junior partner from 2013.A negotiating source said the SPD would get the foreign, finance and labour ministries under the deal.The conservative bloc and the SPD began talks about renewing their alliance after Merkel’s coalition talks with two smaller parties collapsed last November. Both camps face waning support.The SPD initially vowed to rebuild in opposition before changing course and negotiating with Merkel, a U-turn that has divided the party, with its youth wing particularly vocal in opposition to another ‘grand coalition’.

The two blocs had aimed to strike a deal on Sunday, but extended that deadline as they grappled with reforms to health insurance reform and employment policy demanded by the SPD, which promised members it would negotiate until the conservatives squealed.