Saturday, 27 November 2021

Merkel Begins Make-or-Break Government Talks With Stability Plea

Angela Merkel

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany needs a stable government to tackle “enormous” tasks ahead as she began make-or-break talks to renew her alliance with the Social Democrats and open the door to a fourth term.

More than three months of post-election stalemate in Europe’s biggest economy are focusing minds as Merkel, 63, seeks to avoid facing voters again or governing without a majority. The acting chancellor’s Christian Democratic-led bloc and the SPD began exploratory talks on Sunday amid a growing sense that their political futures are at stake.

“Our intention is to work very swiftly, very intensely,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Sunday as she headed into the closed-door discussions. “I’m going into these talks with optimism, though it’s clear to me that a huge amount of work lies ahead.”

Merkel is regrouping after her attempt to build a patchwork government with the pro-market Free Democrats and the Green party collapsed in November, leaving German decisions on hold on everything from euro-area policy to government spending, migration and social programs. She’s governed with the SPD for eight of her 12 years in office in a “grand coalition” of Germany’s two biggest parties.

Outgoing Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, 68, whose Christian Social Union is part of Merkel’s bloc at the national level, sought to convey urgency.

“What I know is that we have to reach an agreement,” told reporters in Berlin. “I repeat: We must reach an agreement.”

The two sides are seeking to finish exploratory talks by Thursday. If there’s enough common ground, SPD leaders would ask a party convention on Jan. 21 to back full-fledged negotiations on a policy blueprint for a government. Many SPD members are wary of serving as Merkel’s junior partner for a third time after the party’s support plunged to the lowest level since World War II in the federal election.

Even so, the SPD is taking a conciliatory stance in public after initially ruling out a rerun of the grand coalition.

“We aren’t laying down any red lines,” SPD chairman Martin Schulz, 62, told reporters.

Check Also

UN warns of worst ‘cascade of human rights setbacks in our lifetimes’

Refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region ride a bus going to the ...

Leave a Reply