Talks to succeed Merkel hit snags

24
Berlin

Efforts by German parties to form a new government to succeed Angela Merkel’s coalition have run into hurdles, throwing their ambitious timetable to elect a new chancellor early next month into doubt.

Following the historic loss suffered by Merkel’s conservatives in September’s general election, the centre-left Social Democrats and their candidate Olaf Scholz came out in pole position to form the new ruling alliance.

But coalition talks with the ecologist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which seemed to be progressing surprisingly quickly in early October, have grown fractious.

If the parties are unable to crack the toughest nuts by the end of the month, participants said the aim of seeing Scholz voted in as chancellor in the week of Dec. 6 could face significant delays.

“We can’t say yet when it (the coalition deal) will be ready because key issues are still up in the air,” Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock told Berlin public radio on Friday, echoing complaints from other participants.

Investment in climate change, the future of mobility and the choice of who will be the next finance minister, who holds the purse strings of Europe’s top economy, have all emerged as sticking points.

Both Greens co-leader Robert Habeck and FDP chief Christian Lindner have staked a claim to the powerful ministry and appear not to be backing down even as the deadline inches closer.–AFP

 

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