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Leaders of Germany’s SPD critical of coalition plan with Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C), leader of Germany's conservative CDU party, Horst Seehofer (L), leader of the CDU's Bavarian CSU sister party, and Martin Schulz (R), leader of Germany's social democratic SPD party, pose after a press conference at the SPD headquarters, venue of exploratory talks between leaders of the SPD and the conservative CDU/CSU union, on January 12, 2018 in Berlin. (AFP photo)

Senior figures in Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) have voiced concerns about a plan for forming a new coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, saying the SPD should have imposed more of its conditions on the other side.

“The same coalition with the same policies is not the right answer,” Berlin's SPD Mayor Michael Mueller said Sunday.

Mueller said a main condition of the SPD for entering a coalition with Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc was to persuade the German leader of the need to impose higher rates of taxes on the rich and to restructure Germany’s two-tier health care system, issues he said were sacrificed by SPD leaders only to reach a broad agreement with Merkel.

Malu Dreyer, the SPD premier of Rhineland-Palatinate state, also slammed the party’s green light to Merkel to impose a cap on immigration. She said the stance on how Germany should cope with refugees as outlined in the coalition roadmap was "very difficult" for the SPD.

SPD chief Martin Schulz has hailed the preliminary coalition agreement as a major breakthrough. However, Merkel, who failed in her first bid in November to form a partnership with two smaller parties, should wait until next Saturday, when 600 SPD delegates will be asked to give the green light at a party congress and then the agreement with be subject to a final vote by more than 400,000 rank-and-file members.

Merkel has ruled Germany in a so-called grand coalition with the Social Democrats in eight of her 12 years in office. The two mainstream Germany parties fear a lack of consensus among them could give the far-right nationalist parties more of a say in German politics as the September general elections clearly showed that they are on the rise.

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