BERLIN – Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leader of the social democrats, Martin Schulz, reiterated on Sunday their willingness to arrive at an agreement to be able to form a stable government coalition, though both acknowledged there were still topics that required further discussion.
The parties had been expected to present a pact on a new grand coalition, but two additional days of meetings between Merkel’s conservative bloc and Schulz’s Social Democratic Party were now being floated.
“We’ve worked well up until now, but there are still significant issues that need to be clarified,” said Merkel upon her arrival to the SPD party headquarters in Berlin, ahead of another round of talks.
Merkel, who was looking to clinch her fourth mandate as chancellor, said she was approaching the final phase positively but was conscious there were “difficult negotiations” ahead.
Schulz for his part confirmed a lack of consensus on three key issues for his party: the SPD was seeking an end to unjustified temporary contracts, guaranteed equal treatment regarding health insurance, and improved access to housing, particularly in the rental market.
Greenpeace activists were gathering in protest outside the SPD headquarters early Sunday, calling on Merkel to live up to the reduction of emissions targets that her government set for 2020.
Once an agreement is reached, Schulz and the SPD leadership will have to present it to party members for a final green light on moving into a coalition arrangement.
Since the last federal elections were held in September 2017, when no party secured a sufficient majority to be able to govern alone, Merkel’s conservative bloc has been in talks with various parties aimed at reaching an agreement on forming a coalition.
The SPD had initially ruled out its involvement in another grand coalition, but after initial efforts to form a coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party and Alliance 90/The Greens collapsed it altered its stance, and party members narrowly voted in favor of moving forward with negotiations.