Germany's Political Stalemate May Be Ending

Social Democrats entering coalition talks with Angela Merkel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2018 10:50 AM CST
German Social Dems Entering Coalition Talks With Merkel
The party logo is photographed while turning the camera during a party meeting of the Social Democrats discussing the possible coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkels conservative block in Bonn, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018.   (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

(Newser) – Germany's Social Democrats have voted to enter coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, a key step toward ending political gridlock and forming a new government. Delegates in Bonn voted 362 to 279 on Sunday in favor of opening the coalition talks, the AP reports. Once a coalition agreement is reached with Merkel's Union bloc, the Social Democrats' membership still would have to approve it before a government can be formed. Ahead of the vote, party leader Martin Schulz told delegates he would push for more concessions from the conservatives on labor, health, and migration policies.

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The leader of the Social Democrats, Martin Schulz, had urged party members to vote for opening coalition talks with Merkel's conservatives, saying a stable German government was needed as a bulwark against right-wing extremism. The center-left party has governed with Merkel's Union bloc since 2013, but Schulz initially vowed not to renew the so-called "grand coalition" after his Social Democrats took a beating in September's election. Schulz told party members gathered in Bonn that his view of the political situation changed after Merkel failed to form a coalition with two smaller parties. He said, "Europe is waiting for a Germany that knows its responsibility for Europe and can act decisively." If the coalition talks fail, the only options left are for Merkel to form a minority government or for new elections.

(Read more Germany stories.)

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