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.
“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.”
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.