German parties hope to reach coalition agreement this week

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and centre-left SPD will meet again on Tuesday in hopes of finalising coalition talks after four months 

Marin Schulz and Angela Merkel
Marin Schulz and Angela Merkel

Negotiators for Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) have said they are hopeful of presenting a coalition deal on Tuesday, ending Germany’s four-month political deadlock.

The chancellor’s Christian Democrats (CDU) emerged as the strongest party in last September’s federal elections but have struggled over the last four months to find parties with whom to form a stable coalition government.

Merkel’s earlier attempt to form a coalition with the Greens and Liberals broke down in November.

Her best chance of a fourth term as chancellor is to revive the grand coalition with the SPD that governed Germany from 2013 to 2017.

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

Schulz  however said that he would not be rushed into doing a deal. “With the best will in the world, we really don’t need any time constraints” in the final phase of talks, he told reporters.

The two parties had also agreed on Sunday on investing €4bn to boost the building of 1.5m new social and private homes by 2021, as well as setting aside €10bn to promote high-speed broadband expansion.

CDU deputy leader, Julia Klöckner, told the broadcaster ARD: “We are on the final stretch but we’re not finished yet.”

German media reported that party leaders would present a preliminary coalition agreement to the full team of 91 negotiators from the SPD, CDU and CSU at the Willy Brandt House, the SPD party headquarters in Berlin.

Any coalition agreement must be put to a vote of the SPD’s 440,000 members.

The result is expected to be a narrow one, with many members against any form of coalition deal. The SPD’s young wing have actively campaigned a “no” vote.

An agreement would commit the next Germany government to “more investments, an investment budget for the eurozone, and an end to the austerity mantra”, as well as “fair taxation” of internet giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, Schulz said via an information service for SPD party members.

Though the parties had imposed a self-imposed deadline of today to finish their talks, they kept two more days free in case they fail to finish on time.