Friday, 15 December, 2017

SPD denies 'green light' for new German government, but keeps options open

No German 'grand coalition' yet: SPD's Schulz Germany's SPD denies agreeing coalition talks with Angela Merkel
Howard Terry | 03 December, 2017, 00:46

The statement came after the Bild newspaper reported that Merkel's Conservative bloc - made up of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) - and rivaling Social Democratic Party led by Martin Schulz had agreed during Thursday to start talks on forming the coalition.

Speaking at a news conference after a key party executive meeting in Berlin, Martin Schulz sharply criticized Christian Democrats for leaking information to the media, after a crisis summit hosted by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday. Merkel and Erdogan also spoke about the importance of cooperating against terror groups, including Kurdish rebels and agreed to increase discussions once a new German government is formed.

After suffering its worst ever general election result, the SPD declared it would not reprise its role as junior partner to Merkel and wanted instead to rebuild in opposition.

He said whoever circulated such reports was damaging trust. "We should discuss all of these options and that is what I will recommend to the party leadership Monday".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference

Firmly denying that an agreement had been reached on opening negotiations on a grand right-left coalition, Schulz said that all options remained on the table. Schulz fronts a party which is split evenly down the middle on what he should do next.

Merkel's party stressed however that was it was seeking is a renewal of its alliance with the SPD, to form a "stable government" for Europe's biggest economy.

The SPD will hold a party congress in Berlin on December 7-9, where it is expected to debate its options. "The fact we underlined today that we are prepared to enter such talks with the SPD shows that we're aiming to bring these talks to a successful conclusion". By contrast, Steinmeier - himself a former SPD leader - is known to favor the grand coalition option.

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Schulz said the SPD backed French President Emmanuel Macron's call for closer eurozone integration, including a new finance minister for the currency bloc - ideas that face resistance from conservatives.

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