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1ST LEAD Merkel holds meeting with FDP, Greens to forge new German government By Andrew McCathie, dpa

Europe
20.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s attempts to cobble together the country‘s first national three-way coalition entered a critical phase on Friday when she brought together for the first time all the party leaders involved in talks to form a new government.

The meeting between Merkel‘s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU) allies, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens comes four weeks after the chancellor secured victory at a national election.

The untested three-way alliance is currently the only option available for Merkel after her CDU/CSU lost voter support in the September 24 election and her current coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats, decided against joining a new CDU-led government.

A slew of issues divide Merkel‘s conservatives from the FDP and the Greens, including coal as a source of energy, the future of the eurozone, taxation and the number of refugees allowed to enter the country.

Speaking as she arrived for Friday talks, Merkel acknowledged "the multitude of differences."

The chancellor also struck an optimistic note, saying "a will to find common ground" had emerged at the series of smaller meetings between the parties, which were held this week.

Merkel has already warned that it could take until the end of the year to form the new government - dubbed the Jamaica coalition because the political colours of the three political blocs involved are black, yellow and green.

The preliminary talks to form the new coalition will also be held against the backdrop of next week‘s first post-election session of parliament, when the populist anti-foreigner Alternative for Germany (AfD) becomes first major right-wing party to enter the Bundestag since the Second World War.

The AfD won 12.6 per cent of the vote at last month‘s national election.

Late Thursday, the general secretaries of the parties attending the coalition talks said they had come up with 12 main topics for discussion, including finance and budgetary issues, Europe, climate, energy and migration.

Friday‘s talks, attended by 52 party leaders, are to be followed by another five negotiators‘ meetings until November 2.

 

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