Germany's Social Democratic Party board approves Merkel coalition deal

VIDEO: REUTERS
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz told a news conference they were optimistic that a new "grand coalition" could be formed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz told a news conference they were optimistic that a new "grand coalition" could be formed.PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN - German politicians have achieved a breakthrough in talks aimed at forming a new coalition government, reported BBC News.

A blueprint for formal negotiations was agreed between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their former coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD).

Politicians stayed up all night to discuss the 28-page document, with the talks lasting more than 24 hours.

Dr Merkel and SPD leader Martin Schulz told a news conference they were optimistic that a new "grand coalition" could be formed, reported BBC News.

They spoke of a "fresh start" for Germany, and Mr Schulz said that in Europe, "we are determined to deploy Germany's strength". They signalled that a stronger alliance with France in the European Union would be a priority.

Dr Merkel wants to conclude negotiations on forming a coalition government by mid-February, a source in her conservative party said on Friday (Jan 12).

The goal is to give the SPD ample time to hold a postal vote among its members on the coalition agreement with Dr Merkel’s CDU and their Christian Social Union (CSU) Bavaria-based allies. Dr Merkel’s conservatives had said they want to have a government in place by the end of March.

The SPD, Germany's second-largest party, said in a statement on Friday that its 45-member board had overwhelmingly given its blessing to formal coalition negotiations with Dr Merkel's conservatives following a deal in principle sealed earlier in the day, reported Agence France-Presse.

The draft programme, outlining policy goals during Dr Merkel's fourth term, must now be approved by 600 SPD delegates at a party congress on Jan 21 and then by the party's more than 400,000 rank-and-file members.