Schulz ready for tense talks with Merkel

Geneva Matthews
December 4, 2017

German Social Democrat (SPD) leader Martin Schulz said on Friday that his party broadly agreed it should not rule out any options for a new government and stressed that another conservative tie-up was not a foregone conclusion.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has invited Merkel, SPD leader Martin Schulz and CSU leader Horst Seehofer for a meeting next week to discuss another "Grand Coalition".

Following first talks with Merkel late on Thursday, Schulz said he would recommend that the SPD begin formal discussions with her conservatives but firmly denied a media report this meant he was committing to joining a new government.

After his party's disastrous result in the September 24 election Schultz had ruled out forming another so-called grand coalition with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian-only sister party, the Christian Social Union, like the one that has governed Germany for the last four years.

Even if the two sides do agree to continue, they'll first have to negotiate the prerequisites for coalition talks, then carry out the coalition talks themselves, meaning it will likely be several months before a new government is formed.

"Whoever circulates false reports destroys trust", he said. He had called the chancellor to complain about "inacceptable" leaks to the press, the Social Democrat leader said.

Ahead of that congress, which will also decide whether to re-elect Schulz as chief of the SPD, the party's top brass has been careful to tread softly regarding its options.

Merkel told the party conference that she wants to "come quickly to a government", adding that Germany must have a stable government, "but also a government that really advances the country".

Merkel is facing the most serious political crisis since she assumed office 12 years ago after the breakdown of the government coalition exploratory talks on November 19.

"It's not automatic that there will be a new grand coalition", Schulz told reporters in Berlin.

"Giving Emmanuel Macron a positive answer will be a key element in every negotiation with the SPD", Mr Schulz was quoted as saying in an interview on Friday.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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