BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel was scheduled on Wednesday to meet the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Martin Schulz, as part of ongoing efforts to arrive at a coalition government.
The encounter between Merkel, of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, and Schulz would be the second such meeting between the pair following a federal election in September that did not give any party a sufficient majority to govern alone.
Talks aimed at forming a tripartite coalition between Merkel’s conservative bloc, the liberal Free Democratic Party and Alliance 90/The Greens collapsed, while the SPD had vowed to go into opposition rather than enter another grand coalition with the conservatives after it suffered its worst election result since World War II.
The goal of Wednesday’s meeting, the details of which were not divulged to the media, was to set out a road map regarding contact between the SPD and Merkel’s conservative bloc after the Christmas holidays.
Besides Merkel and Schulz, the leader of the Christian Social Union – the CDU’s Bavarian partner –, Horst Seehofer, is set to be in attendance, as well as the heads of the parties’ parliamentary groups, Volker Kauder (CDU), Andrea Nahles (SPD) and Alexander Dobrindt (CSU).
Exploratory talks were expected to begin on Jan. 7 and would go on for a couple of weeks with the aim of paving the way toward forming a stable government.
The results of these talks should be clear by Jan. 21, when the SPD will hold an extraordinary party congress in order to vote on whether or not to proceed to the next stage of negotiations.
Should the SPD vote to go ahead, a second round of talks could last several weeks, and as such, a new government coalition would not be in place until March 2018.
Merkel has been advocating for another alliance with the SPD, but the social democrats are reluctant after suffering massive losses in the last election and have suggested various options in order to stabilize a conservative government without being directly involved in a governing grand coalition.