German Parties In Final Push For New Merkel’s Government

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats embark on a final round of talks Tuesday to seal a coalition deal and end months of political limbo in Europe’s top economy.

After marathon talks Monday, negotiators from Merkel’s CDU party, her Bavarian CSU ally and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) are to reconvene in Berlin at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) for one last push to clinch an agreement on a renewed “grand coalition”.

Despite the protracted haggling — the talks were initially supposed to end at the weekend — the parties sounded upbeat on meeting Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline.

“I remain optimistic,” said Daniel Guenther, the CDU premier of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Party sources said the main sticking points were disagreements over healthcare, labour policy and defence spending.

Julia Kloeckner, deputy of Merkel’s CDU party, said she expected talks to once again run into the night Tuesday , meaning it could take until Wednesday for a coalition treaty to be formally presented.

Merkel, in power for over 12 years, has pinned her hopes for a fourth term on a repeat alliance with the SPD after September’s inconclusive election left her without a ruling majority.

But commentators have already dubbed the tie-up a “coalition of losers” after both parties slumped to their worst results in decades in the polls, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) took nearly 13 percent of the vote.

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