Agreement reached on basis for German coalition talks

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Agreement reached on basis for German coalition talks
Agreement reached on basis for German coalition talks

BERLIN (AP) – Leaders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats agreed early Friday on the basis to move ahead with coalition negotiations, after marathon overnight talks.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the Bavarian-only Christian Social Union and the Social Democrats produced a 28-page document outlining their compromise positions on a wide range of issues, including taxes, migration and health care.

“Many, many hours of work, serious wrangling and shaping are contained in these 28 pages,” tweeted CDU lawmaker Julia Kloeckner, part of Merkel’s negotiating team.

Social Democrat spokesman Serkan Agci told reporters outside his party’s headquarters, where the talks took place, that there had been a “breakthrough” agreed upon by the party leaders but said final revisions were still being made on the document by negotiating teams, which would also need approval.

The final negotiating session between the sides began Thursday morning and participants, who had already worked all week, worked through the night to come to the agreement.

Despite the agreement, the possibility of a new coalition of Merkel’s bloc with the Social Democrats, as governed Germany in the outgoing government, is still far from a done deal.

Among other things, the Social Democrats’ leaders will still have to sell entering coalition talks to a party conference, and face much resistance. The sides then need to hash out the actual coalition agreement, which would have to be approved in a ballot of the Social Democrats’ entire membership.

Still, had this week’s talks failed, Merkel’s only options would have been to form a minority government or hold new elections.

Following a dismal result in Germany’s Sept. 24 election, the Social Democrats initially vowed not to enter into another government with Merkel’s conservatives, but reconsidered their position after the long-time chancellor’s attempts to form a coalition with two smaller parties collapsed.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier appealed to the negotiators Thursday to consider their responsibility toward Europe, not just their own parties and political futures.

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David Rising and Geir Moulson contributed to this story

From right, German Interior Minister and delegate of the German Christian Democratic Party (CDU) Thomas de Maiziere, the governor of the German state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, and Ralf Stegner, deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) talk at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 during final exploratory talks on a new German government between the Christian Unions block and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Journalists queue outside the Social Democrats party headquarters when waiting for statements after the exploratory talks between Merkel’s Christian Democratic block and the Social Democrats on forming a new German government in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, arrives for exploratory talks about a new German government between her Christian Unions block and the Social Democratic Party at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Social Democratic Party, SPD, chairman Martin Schulz arrives for a statement prior to exploratory talks about a new German government between German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Unions block and his party at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, leaves after a statement prior to exploratory talks about a new German government between her Christian Unions block and the Social Democratic Party at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Social Democratic Party, SPD, chairman Martin Schulz, left, briefs the media prior to exploratory talks about a new German government between German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Unions block and his party at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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