World Bulletin/News Desk
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats met for a fourth round of negotiations on Monday and made considerable progress towards forming a "grand coalition" government.
Monday’s talks in Berlin have focused on the divisive issues of energy transition and a controversial plan to impose a motorway toll on foreign drivers.
According to German press reports, Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats have reached an overall agreement on the main points of the reform on the energy transition policy.
However, the potential coalition partners could not bridge their differences on the road toll plan.
Conservative politician and Thuringia's state premier Christine Lieberknecht told journalists that she was not expecting any agreement on the motorway toll on Monday.
CSU insists on road toll
The controversial plan to impose a road toll on foreign drivers had been a major campaign promise of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The CSU leaders had earlier said that they would not join the government without such a toll which they argue is desperately needed for major investments for the motorway. SPD is opposing the plan.
Despite their differences on the road toll and on a number of other topics, Merkel’s conservatives and Social Democrats made considerable progress since the launch of coalition talks on October 23.
Discussions on cabinet posts
Spiegel Online reported on Sunday that Chancellor Merkel and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel have already agreed on the "main lines of the formation of the new Cabinet."
Accordingly, the Social Democrats would choose between the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defense. In any cabinet formation, one of these two posts would be hold by the Social Democrats.
Likewise, the coalition partners will make a bargain on the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Justice. One of these cabinet positions will be hold by the Social Democrats, and the other one by the conservatives, Spiegel Online has reported.
'Grand coalition' before Christmas
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats aim at concluding the negotiations and formulating the coalition agreement before November 27.
SPD is planning to hold a mini-referendum in early December among its 470 thousand members on the preliminary coalition agreement. The outcome of this mini-referendum is expected to be announced on December 15.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance won 311 of the 630 seats in September 22 general elections, but fell 5 seats short of winning an absolute majority at the Bundestag, the lower house of the Parliament.
The main opposition party Social Democrats (SPD) won 193 seats. For a stable and strong government, Chancellor Merkel needs the support of the SPD as the main opposition party currently dominates the Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament.Last Mod: 11 Kasım 2013, 23:11