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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Merkel’s 2018 agenda: Forge stable government, unite the EU

Vowed to implement a two-point agenda

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BERLIN, Germany - In her New Year’s Eve speech to the nation, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to implement a two-point agenda - forging a stable government and uniting the European Union together.

Merkel said she would team up with France to hold the European Union together and pledged to form her next government “without delay.”

In her speech, Merkel outlined a vision for her fourth term that includes an alliance with French President Emmanuel Macron to strengthen Europe’s economic clout and control migration.

She also vowed to uphold the values of tolerance and pluralism within the EU and abroad.

In her televised address on Sunday, Merkel said, “Twenty-seven countries in Europe must be impelled more strongly than ever to remain a community. That will be the decisive question of the next few years. Germany and France want to work together to make it succeed.”

The German Chancellor’s effort to combine the strengths of the euro area’s two biggest economies has been hamstrung by Germany’s longest post-election party deadlock since World War II.

The election has left Merkel as a caretaker chancellor since September. 

On January 7, exploratory talks on renewing her coalition with the Social Democratic Party will begin.

The chancellor has sought to put her stamp on the political debate.

A poll this week has suggested that Germans increasingly don’t want Merkel to serve another full term. 

The 63-year-old leader, once known as the most powerful woman in Europe, has however, said she is committed to forming “a stable government for Germany without delay in the new year.”

However, this would prove to be an uphill task, especially since Merkel’s attempt to create a coalition with the Free Democratic Party and the Greens has collapsed. 

In September, after serving as Merkel’s junior partner for eight of her 12 years in office, the Social Democrats slumped to a postwar low in the German election.

Merkel’s former finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, who is now president of the German lower house, said in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper that while a stable alliance with the SPD is preferable, governing without a parliamentary majority would be an option if talks with the SPD fail.

In her speech meanwhile, Merkel also acknowledged a growing divide between the winners of Germany’s economic boom and those left behind who she said worry about crime, violence and migration.

She said, “Both are realities in our country: success and confidence, but also fears and doubts. Both are sources of motivation for me.”

According to a December 19-21 YouGov poll, more than half of the supporters of both Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc and the SPD expect them to agree on another “grand coalition” of the two biggest parties.

Further, 47 percent have said they want Merkel to step down before the end of the four-year mandate her party won in September, compared with 36 percent in October.

Over the weekend, a Civey poll for Die Welt newspaper suggested 46 percent of Germans want Merkel to quit immediately. 

In the election, Merkel’s CDU-CSU bloc won the election with 32.9 percent of the vote, which became its lowest share since 1949. 

 

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