German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) say they hope to find clarity soon on prospects for a new ruling coalition as they gear up for exploratory talks this week. The conservatives, meeting on Monday to map out their negotiating positions, believe compromises can be reached to renew the “grand coalition” that governed for the past four years. The two blocs must overcome differences over the future of Europe, pensions, health care and education. Merkel, whose CDU/CSU alliance last month failed to cut a coalition deal with two smaller parties after an inconclusive national election in September, is due to brief the media at 1 pm (1200 GMT).
Senior conservatives on Saturday rejected the vision for a “United States of Europe” put forward by SPD leader Martin Schulz, weakened after his party posted its worst post-war election result in September.
But Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the conservative premier of the Saarland region, told broadcaster ARD that she hoped some progress could emerge from this week’s talks with the SPD. “Maybe we can take a first big step in this direction this week,” she said.
SPD Secretary General Lars Klingbeil told ARD his party was open to all possibilities, including a renewed coalition with conservatives or a minority government.
Full Article: Merkel, Social Democrats seek clarity on coalition talks.