German parties aim for deal on new government next week

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BERLIN – Three German political parties said on Tuesday they hoped to strike a deal next week to form a new government, keeping center-left leader Olaf Scholz on track to become the new German chancellor in early December.

Scholz’s Social Democrats narrowly won the country’s national elections at the end of September. Coalition talks with the business-friendly Green Greens and Free Democrats, both of whom also made gains in the election, began last month.

If the negotiations are successful, the new alliance will send the center-right Union bloc of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel into the opposition.

Few details have emerged, as negotiators have largely fulfilled their promise to keep the talks confidential. Party leaders began ironing out contentious points on Monday after leaving working groups to discuss various policy areas in recent weeks.

“We aim to reach a coalition deal next week” and maintain the goal of seeing parliament elect Scholz as Merkel’s successor in the week starting December 6, according to Greens secretary general Michael Kellner .

His party recently raised question marks over the timeline, but Kellner said he was “happy with many of the preliminary results,” although some tough issues remain.

“We have already agreed on a lot of things, but of course there are conflicts which we will be talking about intensely in the last days,” said General Secretary of the Social Democratic Party Lars Klingbeil. “I have no doubts that we will get there.”

A coalition deal would require the approval of a ballot by members of the Greens and conventions from the other two parties before the new government can take office.

The potential alliance brings together two traditionally left-wing parties with one, the Free Democrats, which has tended to ally with the center-right.

A preliminary agreement last month left many questions open. He called on Germany to speed up its exit from coal-fired electricity, currently scheduled for 2038, so that this happens “ideally” by 2030, and to “drastically” accelerate the expansion of production. renewable energy.

At the insistence of the Free Democrats, potential partners said they would not raise taxes or ease debt brakes, making financing a central issue.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, meanwhile, is focused on electing a new leader after outgoing President Armin Laschet led the Union bloc – the bipartisan bloc dominated by the CDU – to the defeat and at its worst electoral result ever.

Prominent conservative Friedrich Merz on Monday became the third candidate to bid for the party leadership, his third attempt in as many years.

Norbert Roettgen, a former environment minister who has chaired Parliament’s foreign policy committee in recent years, and Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, threw their hats in the ring on Friday. Both are centrist, while Merz has generally appealed to mainstream conservatives more.

The CDU plans to hold a vote of some 400,000 party members to choose a new leader.

A first ballot will be held online and by correspondence in early December. If a second round is required, it would take place in mid-January. A party congress on January 21 and 22 would officially sign the result.

The result is difficult to predict. Both Merz and Roettgen entered the competition won by Laschet in January, but Braun’s candidacy was unexpected.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Germany’s transition to a new government at https://apnews.com/hub/germany-election

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