Merkel, SPD set Feb. 4 deadline for coalition talks

Merkel, SPD set Feb. 4 deadline for coalition talks

Chancellor’s conservative bloc and Social Democrats agree to conclude formal negotiations until February 4

BERLIN (AA) - Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and Social Democratic Party (SPD) agreed on Friday to conclude coalition negotiations until Feb. 4 deadline.

Michael Grosse-Bromer, the leader of conservative CDU/CSU bloc at parliament, told reporters following their meeting with the SPD that the parties agreed on the goal of achieving the agreement on the coalition government next weekend.

“We want to work carefully but also expeditiously,” he said, and reaffirmed that there aim is to swiftly form a “grand coalition” government

Grosse-Bromer said 18 working groups, formed on major policy areas, would try to conclude their work by next Friday, and submit their results to the leaders.

“We agreed to hold a major meeting from February 3 to 4, with the goal of successfully concluding our negotiations,” he said, adding that depending on the discussions, this meeting could be extended by another two days.

EU’s largest economy spent 124 days without an elected government following the parliamentary election on Sept. 24, 2017, the longest period since the Second World War.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), emerged as the largest bloc in the parliament following Sept. 24 election, but they failed to secure an absolute majority.

The Chancellor’s efforts to create a three-way government with the liberal FDP and Greens had failed in November after weeks of negotiations following the election.

The CDU/CSU bloc and Social Democrats reached a tentative coalition deal on January 12, following several weeks of preliminary discussions, and SPD’s congress backed last week entering coalition negotiations with the conservatives.

The leaders of the SPD have promised that any coalition agreement with Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc would eventually be voted on by the party members.

The SPD’s traditional left-wing and the youth organization Jusos are opposing entering into a coalition government with the Christian Democrats.

On Sept. 24, the Social Democrats suffered their worst election result in decades, but remained the second-largest party in parliament.

Many Social Democrats have blamed their poor showing on the party's membership of the previous “grand coalition”.

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