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German parties ‘reach coalition deal’ after long talks

The final session of negotiations dragged on for 24 hours.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and Germany’s main centre-left party have reached an agreement to form a new coalition government, according to the dpa news agency.

The breakthrough came after a final session of negotiations that dragged on for 24 hours, dpa said.

Citing unidentified party officials, dpa said Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, its Bavaria-only sister party the Christian Social Union, and the centre-left Social Democrats overcame the last hurdles to a deal after previously achieving a breakthrough on the division of ministries.

According to dpa, the Social Democrats were set to get the foreign, labour and finance ministries — the latter a major prize, held by Mrs Merkel’s party for the past eight years.

Even once a deal emerges, it will not bring an immediate end to the political limbo following Germany’s September 24 election — the country has already broken its post-war record for the longest time from an election to the swearing-in of a new government.

A deal will be put to a ballot of the Social Democrats’ 460,000 members, a process that will take a few weeks.

Many members are sceptical after the party’s disastrous election result, which followed four years of a “grand coalition” with the party serving as junior partner to Mrs Merkel’s conservatives.

Failure to reach an agreement, or a rejection by Social Democrat members, would leave a minority government under Mrs Merkel or a new election as the only viable options.

Mrs Merkel’s attempt to put together a government with two smaller parties collapsed in November.

Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz, who had previously ruled out renewing the coalition of Germany’s biggest parties, then reversed course.


From Belfast Telegraph