News / Europe

    Merkel, Social Democrats Work Out Coalition Deal

    FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leader of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU stands in front of her election campaign tour bus before a CDU board meeting in Berlin.
    FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leader of the Christian Democratic Union party CDU stands in front of her election campaign tour bus before a CDU board meeting in Berlin.
    VOA News
    German lawmakers have arrived at a deal to form a coalition government, more than two months after the country's elections.

    After marathon negotiations on Tuesday, officials from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) finalized an agreement to form a "grand coalition" that will establish a mandatory minimum wage and streamline some banking policies.

    “The result is good for our country and has a conservative imprint,” said Hermann Groehe, secretary general of Merkel’s CDU. “No new taxes and no new debts.”
     
    Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament and a senior SPD negotiator, called it an “excellent result” for his party.

    However, before the deal is finalized, it must be approved by a vote of the Social Democrats' 470,000 members. Results are expected by mid-December.
     
    The SPD vote adds uncertainty to a process that has dragged on for months, preventing Germany's European partners from pushing ahead with major reforms, like a banking union. However, the likely outcome does remain continuity under the popular chancellor.
     
    Party leaders should present details of the deal at a news conference on Wednesday but may wait to announce the allocation of cabinet posts. Merkel left the SPD headquarters, where the final round of talks took place, without a word to the media.
     
    However, details of policy compromises that have emerged in recent days show she has leveraged her landslide victory in September's vote to ensure her pragmatic brand of conservativism continues to dominate Europe's largest economy.
     
    Merkel has made concessions to the SPD on the economy, agreeing to a minimum wage of EUR 8.50 per hour, tighter rules for employers and pension hikes, despite howls of protest from business. Just before dawn, the bargaining stalled on how to fund this without Merkel breaking a campaign promise ti not increase taxes or debt.
     
    Polls suggest most people trust 59-year-old Merkel not to endanger an employment rate which is the envy of Europe. She is also trusted on the euro crisis, where she has demanded fiscal reforms from the likes of Greece in return for bailouts.
     
    Wolfgang Schaeuble, Merkel's trusted 71-year-old finance minister, should get to keep his job. Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the SPD may be foreign minister again, as he was in the last Merkel-led CDU-SPD “grand coalition”, from 2005-2009. SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel, who was in that cabinet too, could get a beefed-up economy ministry or lead the SPD in the Bundestag lower house.
     
    The last CDU-SPD coalition suited Merkel, but prompted SPD left-wingers, already bitter about labor reforms launched by the last SPD chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, to leave in droves.
     
    The SPD insisted Merkel wait until after the vote to name her cabinet, to avoid giving supporters the impression that the likes of Gabriel put their own ambitions above party values.
     
    With the talks ending on the Nov. 27 deadline set by Merkel, SPD leaders must now persuade members at over 30 rallies that a minimum wage is a victory for the working class.
     
    “We will convince members,” Steinmeier told reporters.
     
    The ballot results are due on Dec. 14. At an SPD congress in Leipzig, delegates said they would only decide after reading the coalition document. Over 170 pages long, it shows a very German attention to detail, ranging from banking rules to plans for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth in 2020.
     
    If the majority are willing to overlook details like the SPD conceding on such a major campaign platform as tax hikes for the rich, and okay Germany's third “grand coalition” of the post-war era, Merkel can be sworn in the week before Christmas.
     
    If the SPD votes does go against the proposed coalition, Merkel could go to the smaller Green party for a possible coalition, or call fresh elections.


    Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora