'Big obstacles' still in the way in German coalition talks

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The two political blocs want to decide by Friday whether to launch formal coalition talks.

A member of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as well as another lawmaker from the CDU's Bavarian sister-party CSU, Dorothee Bar, tweeted the photo of the document's cover on Friday.

"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. "The only thing clear to me is that that was a pretty hard task but. we kept telling each other we wanted to find a way forward and that's why we succeeded".

Another coalition with the SPD therefore remains the only feasible option open to the chancellor, aside from the never-before-used option of a minority government. The leader of that social-democratic party, the horrendous Martin Schulz, said at the end of previous year that he hoped for a "United States of Europe".

"At a time when [German] society is drifting apart, we wanted to hold the society together", Schulz told reporters.

Prominent Social Democrat opponents of a new "grand coalition" of Germany's biggest parties weren't placated by Friday's deal and vowed to keep fighting it.

A new coalition deal can still be torpedoed when SPD delegates, and later rank-and-file members, get to vote on whether the party should once again govern in Merkel's shadow. 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.

One primary reason for investors' cheer - which saw the euro jump to a three-year high of $1.2156 against the dollar - was simply relief that the country's political situation was being sorted out, nearly four months after the September 24 election. The AfD's virulently anti-immigration platform proved popular with voters.

After working groups failed to bridge gaps on key policy points in talks this week, it fell to political leaders to conclude a high-stakes final round of horse trading. "And that's something that Germany really has to prepare for".


Back then, a number of left wing members of the party led by Oskar Lafontaine left SPD, denouncing the changes of labor protection laws, as proposed by the leadership of Gerhard Schröder. Merkel and her allies agreed to a total yearly maximum of 220,000 people.

An effort to form a complicated coalition led by Merkel's Christian Democrats and including the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats failed in November.

The markets rallied at the news of the prospective deal and the euro jumped to a three-hear high.

French spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said: "Good news seems to be coming out of Germany".

France and Bulgaria, which now holds the rotating European Union presidency, welcomed Friday's developments. "We are waiting on this quite impatiently".

A majority of the German population already believes that Merkel will not see out her current parliamentary term, due to end in 2021, according to the poll conducted by the Infratest institute.

But talk of crisis and Mrs Merkel's political demise - from some worldwide media - has been overblown.

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

Seehofer said last week that he hoped a new government would be in place before Easter, which falls on April 1.

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