Merkel clears major hurdle in forming coalition government

After talks stretching over 24 hours and months of uncertainty, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s  (pictured) conservatives finally struck a deal with Social Democrats for carrying forward their dialogue to the next level — coalition formation.

If things go smoothly, Germany will have a new government before April 1.

In the wee hours of Friday, Merkel of Christian Democrats, Horst Seehofer of her Bavarian allies the CSU and Martin Schulz of Social Democrats (SPD) came out with a 28-page coalition plan.

As part of the plan, the three parties agreed to work in close partnership with France to strengthen Eurozone, restrict asylum seekers to Germany to around 200,000 a year and avoid tax hikes.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker described the three-party deal as significant and positive for the future of Germany and Europe.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said it was “good news for Europe. The French government too welcomed the breakthrough.

Merkel’s plan of ruling Germany for the fourth term had suffered a setback when her party failed to win majority in September elections. Far-right and anti-immigration Alternative for Germany founded in 2013 surprised all parties by taking a big chunk of votes. SPD suffered the most humiliating defeat.

Merkel’s strategy to form a government with Free Democrats and Greens failed in November forcing her to seek SPD’s help again.

As Merkel and Schulz met on Thursday for talks, they badly needed the coalition deal for their political survival.
In the all-night talks, the parties were under severe pressure to deliver some of their signature policies.

Although the 28-page coalition plan is ready now, the chances of forming a government depends on whether SPD delegates and members would like to join the coalition. Schulz has to convince them to sign up again for a Merkel-led coalition.