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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs