POST TIME: 5 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Merkel enters final stretch in coalition-building marathon

Merkel enters final stretch in coalition-building marathon

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives will sit down with their historic centre-left rivals yesterday to try and seal a deal to form a government more than four months after legislative elections, reports AFP.

They have set a deadline of Sunday evening, with the option of extending into Monday or Tuesday.

On the agenda are detailed questions about how a repeat of the “grand coalition” or “GroKo” that has ruled since 2013 will shape healthcare, labour law, pensions and reform of the European Union and euro single currency. Both sides are reluctant to compromise too much and risk losing support, but are equally fearful of going back to voters in repeat elections that could see a further rise of the far-right.

But neither can they afford to dig in their heels, as a poll for ARD television showed 71 percent of people do not understand “why forming a government is taking so long”.

“I hope we can manage it,” Merkel said Friday, warning however that there were still “a whole list of very serious points of disagreement”.

At stake for Merkel—still rated a “good” or “very good” choice for chancellor by 51 percent of respondents to the same poll—is whether she leads a stable coalition into her fourth term, or risks a fragile minority government or new elections. The SPD is a reluctant partner, having initially vowed to go into opposition after plunging to a historic low vote share of 20.5 percent in  September.