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Germany: Merkel, SPD agree on coalition govt

Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Social Democrats have reached an agreement on Wednesday to form a “grand coalition” government, after 136 days of post-eleciton stalemate.

Speaking at a joint press conference with party leaders, after a marathon 24 hours of talks, Merkel said they have managed to pave the way for a coalition government that would address real needs and problems of citizens.

“I am convinced that this coalition agreement would lay the groundwork for a good and stable coalition government our country requires,” she stressed.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had to give up key ministerial posts, such as interior and finance ministries, as part of the compromise.

CDU’s Bavarian ally Christian Social Union (CSU) secured four ministries, including the Interior.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which had been reluctant to enter a new coalition with conservatives, gained six ministerial posts, including foreign, justice, finance and labor ministries.

Local media reported that SPD leader Martin Schulz was the likely candidate of his party for the foreign ministry post. The coalition deal is still subject to approval by the SPD’s around 460,000 members.

The SPD’s traditional left-wing and the youth organization, Jusos, have been opposing a coalition government with the Christian Democrats, and calling for a reform within the party.

On Sept. 24, the Social Democrats suffered their worst election result in decades, but remained the second-largest party in parliament.

Many Social Democrats have blamed their poor showing on the party’s membership in the previous “grand coalition”.

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