Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Merkel clinches hard-fought deal on new government

Merkel clinches hard-fought deal on new government

After extracting several hard-fought concessions in the final spurt, Martin Schulz said he was stepping down as leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and wanted to become foreign minister in the new government.

Newspapers around Europe were dominated with news of the agreement reached Wednesday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and Martin Schulz's Social Democrats on forming a governing coalition.

The coalition breakthrough will come as a relief to Germany's European Union partners as the bloc faces tough negotiations on migration and Brexit.

Many grassroots SPD members are skeptical about joining another alliance with Merkel, especially since its last four years as junior partner to Merkel's conservatives since 2013 culminated in the SPD's worst election result in the postwar period.

Horst Seehofer, a critic of Merkel's refugee policy, gains control of the issue as interior minister. They have secured three key ministries in negotiations for another coalition with the right: finance, foreign affairs, labor. It agreed to coalition talks with Merkel only after other options were exhausted, and with the stipulation that it would put any deal to its members.

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Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of the influential Bild daily, called it "the first SPD government led by a CDU chancellor".

Meanwhile the finance job could go to the popular mayor of northern port city Hamburg, pro-business centrist Olaf Scholz, often eyed as a potential SPD chancellor candidate.

Christian von Stetten, a lawmaker from Merkel's own Christian Democrats (CDU), told Reuters the allocation of cabinet posts, and the finance ministry in particular, had been "a political mistake". A campaign is underway inside the SPD, led by its youth wing, to block another grand coalition.

The result is due to be announced on March 4.

It's been over four months since its latest elections, and Germany finally has a government again.

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