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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, May 28, 2018

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German political deadlock ends, SPD approves coalition talks

CDU/CSU SPD alliance

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BERLIN, Germany - Ending a prolonged political deadlock in Germany, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) voted at a special party congress in Bonn, to begin formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance.

The move, which brought the Merkel-led administration closer to reality came four months after the election left the country’s political landscape shaken.

Germany's leaders took the crucial step towards breaking a deadlock after launching fresh negotiations earlier this month. 

In last September’s election, Merkel's political alliance emerged as the largest group, yet its support was significantly dented and Merkel has struggled to put together a viable coalition since then.

For several hours on Sunday, reports noted that about 600 SPD delegates debated the motion before voting to launch official talks that will likely lead to a renewal of the CDU/SPD partnership of the last four years.

During the party meeting, officials said that 362 delegates voted "yes" while 279 voted against the talks.

Initially, in September, SPD leader Martin Schulz ruled out a new grand coalition after his party's share of the vote also slumped in the polls.

Two months later, he repeated his pledge, after initial coalition talks between the CDU/CSU and two smaller parties collapsed.

Schulz was concerned that rejoining Merkel in government would mean the far-right Alternative for Germany, which entered the national parliament for the first time with 12.6 percent of the votes, would become the main opposition party.

Schulz was however under pressure to reconsider and make his party available for talks since there were few viable options remaining and the prospect of new elections looming large if a government could not be formed.

In December, delegates at a party conference voted by a large majority to begin exploratory discussions, which concluded last week.

During the discussions, parties reached a preliminary deal and since then, Schulz has been on the road, trying to lobby SPD delegates around the country to support him in the crucial vote.

The agreement was hailed by the European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who said in a tweet, "The political agreement in Berlin is positive news for stability across Europe. Germany is an important player in advancing the necessary reform process for Europe to be more effective in providing answers to citizens."

Over the next few weeks, talks are set to begin and after a coalition deal is reached, SPD delegates will vote on whether to approve it.

If all the hurdles are cleared, a new government will be formed, by April or May.

 

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