Germany’s Angela Merkel finally reaches coalition deal with SPD

After protracted talks, Angela Merkel’s conservatives have made a deal with the Social Democrats for a new coalition contract in Germany. The SPD confirmed this in a message to its members, who will have the final say.

Wednesday’s key developments

  • The SPD, CDU and CSU have agreed in principle on a coalition deal, but a vote of SPD members still awaits.
  • SPD to now have three major portfolios: finance, foreign affairs and labor.
  • Bavaria’s CSU, which advocates a tougher line on immigration than Chancellor Merkel, takes over the Interior Ministry.
  • Merkel’s CDU gains the Economy Ministry and smaller posts, but is giving up the influential Interior and Finance ministries.

Negotiators from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU); their Bavarian partners, the Christian Social Union (CSU); and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) have finally hashed out a contract for a new grand coalition government — probably ensuring that Angela Merkel will stay in office for a fourth tenure as German chancellor.

The SPD leadership confirmed initial reports of a deal in a group WhatsApp message to its members: “Tired. But satisfied,” it said, adding that final details were now being added to the text of the contract, which would then be assessed by the SPD negotiating team.

“It was high time that we got the prospect of a government,” the CSU’s parliamentary leader, Alexander Dobrindt, said as he left CDU headquarters in the morning after the negotiators had worked overnight.

One of the last major hurdles was the allocation of ministerial posts, always a thorny issue and typically among the last detail to be confirmed.

The German parliament (picture alliance/dpa/R. Hirschberger)


Shifting responsibilities

There are five “classic ministries” in Germany’s government – Finance, Foreign, Interior, Justice and Defense. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) are ceding direct control of two of them. One, finance, is to change from right to left of the political divide, moving from CDU to Social Democrat (SPD) hands. Other switches are likely in less prominent portfolios.

Early reports suggested that the SPD would be handed the Finance Ministry — a major victory for the party — while CSU leader Horst Seehofer, one of the most conservative figures on Merkel’s side, would become interior minister. The SPD also look set to keep control of the Foreign Ministry and the Labor Ministry, with party leader Martin Schulz reportedly keen to be foreign minister. This means that Merkel’s CDU looks like it has given up key positions to keep its allies happy.



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