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German parties start official coalition talks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
German chancellor Angela Merkel attends the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 24, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (Photo by AFP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Social Democratic (SPD) Party have started negotiations to form a “grand coalition” despite earlier setbacks.

Leaders from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the SPD met Friday for the start of formal negotiations on forming a new governing coalition.

Going into the Friday meeting, Merkel said that preliminary negotiations between the three parties had resulted in a “very good framework.”

The SPD is facing strong internal resistance and many members are skeptical about a re-run of the “grand coalition” that has ruled Germany since 2013. The SPD got its worst election result in the postwar era in September and many fear a further fall in votes.

Despite the concerns, SPD leader Martin Schulz emphasized the necessity of forming a stable government.

“Given the challenges from China and the US, the European Union needs a strong, pro-European Germany,” Schulz said on Friday.

The former president of the European Parliament called for a “swift and constructive” compromise.

He expressed hope the coalition talks would conclude within two weeks.

Earlier attempts by the long-time German chancellor to form a coalition government with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats failed last year.

The four-month delay in forming a government is unprecedented in post-war Germany.

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