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5TH LEAD Merkel's CDU to hold 'open-ended' coalition talks with SPD next week By dpa correspondents

Europe
08.12.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democrats (CDU) are set to hold "open-ended" talks with the Social Democrats next week, sources told dpa late Thursday, after the centre-left party agreed to consider entering into a fresh coalition agreement.

The SPD decision to potentially rejoin a Merkel-led "grand coalition" brings the country closer to ending weeks of political deadlock in Europe‘s biggest economy, following an inconclusive parliamentary election in September.

An attempt by Merkel to broker a coalition with the environmental Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats broke down late last month.

Merkel is expected to lead talks on Wednesday evening with SPD boss Martin Schulz and Horst Seehofer, the head of the CDU‘s Bavarian-based sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU).

However, the talks are still not official exploratory talks, sources said. Rather the participants will aim to come up with a roadmap for further meetings.

SPD leaders will then discuss on December 15 whether formal exploratory talks should begin in January.

The SPD had initially said it would return to the opposition after Schulz led it to a bruising defeat in the September 24 election - with just 20.5 per cent of the vote, it received its worst result in post-war history.

But earlier Thursday, after an an emotional appeal by Schulz to uphold the national interest and strengthen Europe by backing the talks, a restive party congress in Berlin voted not to rule out hooking up with the chancellor as her junior coalition partner for a third four-year term within 12 years.

"A strong SPD is necessary to make Germany strong, and a strong Germany is necessary to make Europe strong," Schulz said.

SPD officials however said they did not expect to form any new coalition with Merkel until March - six months after the nation went to the polls.

Many SPD delegates also criticized Schulz‘s leadership and spoke out strongly against teaming up with Merkel again.

While Schulz was re-elected at the congress as party leader with 81.9 per cent of the vote it was sharply down from the 100 per cent he received when he was first elected party leader in March.

 

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