Breakthrough in Germany coalition talks
BERLIN, Jan 12 : Germany inched toward a new government Friday as Chancellor Angela Merkel and the centre-left Social Democrats agreed to move ahead with formal talks to build a coalition.
The in-principle pact after months of paralysis averts the unpopular prospect of snap elections for now, but there are still several hurdles to clear, some of which may prove perilous.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) has promised members a say at key junctures of the negotiation process with Merkel's CDU-CSU alliance.
The first key date will be January 21, when around 600 party delegates will gather in Bonn to look at the outline deal obtained Friday.
Deep scepticism runs through the party, because of fears that to again govern in Merkel's shadow will force the SPD to betray its ideals and further damage its voter appeal.
However, SPD chief Martin Schulz, who had also initially ruled out governing under Merkel, praised the deal Friday and said the party leadership had unanimously backed the coalition blueprint.
If the SPD delegates give the thumbs up, formal coalition talks could in theory begin as soon as January 22. The broad policy outline will then have to be fleshed out over weeks of talks involving policy experts into a formal "coalition contract".
This means that negotiators will return to the table to thrash out the fine print that will essentially determined Germany's political programme for the next four years.
In 2013, when Merkel was seeking the current coalition with the SPD, this process took three weeks. —AFP