Germany’s SPD, Greens, Liberals reach agreement for post-Merkel coalition government

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Three German parties have reached an agreement to form a new government that will end Chancellor Angela Merkel’s longtime era, according to Olaf Scholz, who is ready to replace her.

Scholz, from the center-left Social Democrats, said he expects members of the parties to give their blessing to the deal in the next 10 days.

At a press conference, Scholz and other leaders gave some indications of how the coalition would govern.

Among the first agreed measures: compulsory vaccinations in places where particularly vulnerable people are cared for, with the possibility of extending that rule. It comes as Germany sees an increase in the number of cases, and the political transition has somewhat hampered the country’s response.

Scholz also stressed the importance of a sovereign Europe, friendship with France and partnership with the United States as central cornerstones of the government’s foreign policy – to continue a long post-war tradition.

The new government will not seek “the slightest common denominator, but the policy with great effects”, Scholz promised.

Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Green Party, said at the same time that measures planned by the government would put Germany on a path to meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

The Social Democrats have been negotiating with the Green and business-friendly Free Democrats since they won a national election on 26 September.

If party members sign it, the three-way alliance – which has never been tried in a national government – will replace the current “grand coalition” of the country’s traditional major parties. The Social Democrats have acted as junior partners to Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats.

Merkel, who did not run for a fifth term, is expected to be succeeded by Scholz, 63, who has been her finance minister and deputy chancellor since 2018.

The three governing parties have said they hope Parliament will elect Scholz as chancellor in the week beginning December 6. Before that can happen, the deal requires approval from a vote of the Greens’ approximately 125,000 people and from congresses of the other two parties.

The news of the deal came when Merkel, 67, led what would probably be her last government meeting after 16 years in office. Scholz gave her a bouquet of flowers at the meeting.

Negotiations on the alliance were relatively harmonious and rapid compared to previous coalition talks. But the alliance is a potentially troubled mix because it brings together two traditionally left-wing parties with one, the Free Democrats, who have tended to ally with the center-right.

Few details have emerged from the negotiations on closed doors, including how the parties will divide the ministerial portfolios.

A preliminary agreement last month indicated that Germany would bring forward its deadline for ending the use of coal power from 2038 to 2030, while expanding the expansion of renewable energy production.

At the insistence of the Free Democrats, the prospective partners said they would not raise taxes or drop the curbs to raise debt, making funding a key issue.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats are currently engaged in a leadership contest over who will be their next leader and revive the party’s fortunes after suffering the worst election result ever.

(AP)

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