German Leaders Agree On New Coalition Talks, But Hurdles Remain

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Even if the two sides decide they have the basis for coalition talks, such negotiations would require the approval of a Social Democrat congress on January 21, and the party's leadership will have to overcome strong reservations among members.

"We will continue tough negotiations, tomorrow as well, but I am optimistic that we can achieve a resolution", he said, speaking for conservatives and Social Democrats after a long day of discussions in Berlin.

He said his party was committed to ensuring that the new government for Europe's top economy committed "above all to working toward renewal of the European Union". But both parties bled support in the September 24 election, which saw the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) enter the Bundestag (national parliament) for the first time.

They agreed to limit the number of refugees entering the country to between 180,000 and 220,000 per year. If that happens, it could still take several more months before a new government would be in place.

However, the SPD's youth and left-wing factions have renewed calls that the SPD should not enter into another coalition with Merkel, which had made it suffer the landslide loss in federal elections.

But he has been forced to wait for months for a concrete response from Mrs Merkel, who has come under mounting criticism at home and overseas for her plodding reaction, aggravated by her failure to form a new government.

Merkel's first attempt to form what Germans refer to as a "Jamaica" coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) collapsed in November.

She had until Friday been unsuccessful in forming a new government since the vote in September.

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"The negotiations are not just about a coalition, but also their careers".

Merkel's inability to form a government had raised questions about her political future after 12 years at the helm of Europe's largest economy. He also referred to future of a union in need of impetus and cohesion, German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who warned that Germany's reputation is on table and that Berlin should not forget that it "has a responsibility to Europe".

Scepticism is high within the party about joining hands again with Merkel after the SPD scored a humiliating result in September s election. The leader of that social-democratic party, the horrendous Martin Schulz, said at the end of past year that he hoped for a "United States of Europe". This week CDU/CSU and the SPD are to decide the agenda of the negotiations and possibly strike a general agreement, regarding the hot issues of immigration, taxation, the reform of the European Union and changes in social insurance coverage, with healthcare prominent in this facet. Left-leaning lawmaker Hilde Mattheis said the result was "disappointing" and would produce "no new policies for more fairness and solidarity".

"The mood is like the weather", Ralf Stegner, one of the SPD's deputy leaders, said as he gazed at the cloudy sky above Berlin ahead of yesterday's talks, as reported by Reuters.

If this grand coalition is formed, I think it will be favorable to Europe.

Kempf welcomed the flexible approach to cutting greenhouse emissions, saying that "there are grounds for hope that technical and economic realities will be more clearly recognized".

Merkel ruled with the SPD in two of her three terms in office, including in the last parliament from 2013-2017.

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