German coalition talks still going after 23 hours


Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have reached a breakthrough to begin official talks on coalition.

But it could still be torpedoed when 600 party delegates need to approve it at a congress on January 21, or in a final vote by more than 400,000 rank and file members.

Merkel is betting that after five days of talks, the parties will have laid the groundwork for the start of formal negotiations for a new coalition government with her at the helm for a fourth term in office.

Mrs Merkel is accused of betraying traditional conservative values, and losing voters to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The immigration of refugees should not exceed 180,000 to 220,000 people per year, no tax increases are planned, and the family reunion for refugees should be possible in the future "only for humanitarian reasons" and limited to 1,000 cases per month.

Meet the new German government, same as the old German government.

SPD Parliamentarian Hilde Mattheis, who opposes a grand coalition, told the daily Schwaebische Zeitung that the mood in her party "is still very fragile".

Despite the agreement, the possibility of a new coalition of Merkel's bloc with the Social Democrats, as governed Germany in the outgoing government, is still far from a done deal.

According to the Reuters news agency, citing the German coalition paper, CDU/CSU bloc and the SPD party have agreed to boost the country's contribution to the European Union budget, devoting specific funds for economic stabilization, social convergence and structural reform support in the Eurozone. If Merkel succeeds at forming a coalition, the new government will likely be formalized after April.

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Merkel's bloc does not support the SPD's ideas and, in turn, proposes an increase of military spending in the framework of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states' agreement to spend 2 percent of the GDP on the military, which the SPD opposes.

A historically poor showing for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in September's vote has left the Chancellor scrambling to hammer out an agreement with the second largest party in parliament, the center-left Social Democrats SPD.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats on Friday pledged to work closely with France to strengthen the euro zone.

Manage and limit migration to Germany and Europe to prevent a re-run of the 2015 refugee influx. "The world is not waiting for Germany".

"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. Politicians of the Green Party admitted that they also considered bailing on the talks over the chancellor's attitude.

"It is welcome that the goal of a United States of Europe, which sounds great and which perhaps sometime in the future can be a long-term objective, is not included in this coalition agreement", said Detlef Seif, the deputy European Union spokesman for Merkel's conservative parliamentary bloc.

"Those who bear responsibility in the institutions and parties. know that they have this responsibility not only towards the members of their own party and their own political future".

Many SPD members remain sceptical about renewing the coalition. "So the question, for instance, will be whether she will stay for the whole term or whether she will actually build a successor and hand over to that person".