Published: Tue, February 06, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Angela Merkel warns 'serious differences' still blocking coalition deal

Angela Merkel warns 'serious differences' still blocking coalition deal

A deal will require approval in a ballot of the Social Democrats' members, many of whom are skeptical about renewing the alliance that has governed Germany since 2013 after a disastrous election result in September.

The effort to put together a governing coalition is already post-Second World War Germany's longest and will not finish with these talks.

Speaking at the end of talks on February 3, conservative politician Michael Grosse-Broemer said the two blocs meant to stick to the timeframe but issues like labor policy, healthcare and rents still needed to be resolved.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats embarked Sunday on a final push for an agreement on a new German government, but negotiators adjourned for the night without resolving all their differences.

After a breakthrough last week on refugee policy, two key SPD demands remain on the table: curbing the use of temporary work contracts, and overhauling the national health-care system to prevent doctors from billing higher fees for privately insured patients.

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In a full day of negotiations, the parties were also hoping to tick off issues including finances, rents and real estate prices and municipalities.

The SPD's 443,000 party members have a final veto on any coalition arrangement, meaning any agreement reached by the parties still has a final hurdle to overcome. The two parties are still at loggerheads over labour policy and an SPD-driven reform of Germany's multi-payer healthcare system, German media reported on Monday.

The SPD leader, Martin Schulz, announced on Monday that the two sides had also reached an agreement on the European chapter of the coalition agreement that amounted to "an urgently needed signal for a fresh start for Europe".

On January 26, Michael Grosse-Broemer, the leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, said that the coalition talks were going to end on February 3-4, whil a week later, CSU head and Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer said that the talks were expected to be completed "in the upcoming days".

Mrs Merkel said "important points" had to be cleared up. Merkel's Christian Democrats have been struggling to build a governing coaltion since the general election four months ago.

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