World Bulletin/News Desk
Leading members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have begun on Wednesday formal negotiations to form a coalition government.
The parties have established 12 working groups and four subgroups that cover various policy areas such as the foreign policy, Europe, finance, energy, health, education, migration and integration. 75 politicians from the three parties will take part at the negotiations in these working groups and subgroups.
Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats aim at concluding the negotiations until the end of November and form the coalition government before Christmas. Any preliminary coalition agreement has to be approved by the 470 thousand members of the SPD in a mini-referendum.
Ten indispensable points of SPD
SPD’s mini party congress on Sunday has identified a list of ten “indispensable” points that it wants to see in the formal coalition agreement with the CDU/CSU. The list includes introducing a nationwide legally binding minimum wage of 8.5 euros, boosting investments in the fields of infrastructure and education, supporting gender equality in the workplace, improving the conditions of refugees and allowing immigrants to have dual citizenship.
Before the September 22 elections, SPD has promised ethnic Turkish voters that it would work for legal changes that would allow dual citizenship. Merkel’s conservatives had long opposed dual-citizenship with concerns that it may undermine integration efforts but recently they have also signaled flexibility on this topic.
Disagreements on tax policy
During the exploratory talks between the CDU/CSU and the SPD after the September 22 elections, both sides signaled readiness for compromise on a number of key points but differences remain on how to finance the intended major projects and investments.
Conservatives oppose increasing tax rates for the wealthy and the SPD is against a major election campaign promise of the CSU to introduce a car tax on foreign drivers to raise money for investments for the roads.
Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats have not yet discussed the distribution of ministerial posts but the SPD eyes at having a stronger say in finance and labor policies of the possible coalition government.
Germany’s Die Welt newspaper reported last week that the Social Democrats would likely to drop their demand for foreign ministry but in return would insist for the finance and labor ministries which would give them more influence on coalition government’s policies. SPD expects to get seven ministerial posts, German media has reported.
Chancellor Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance won 311 of the 631 seats in September 22 general elections, but fell five 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: 23 Ekim 2013, 16:06