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Tuesday, November 28, 2017 09:28:05 PM
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Merkel presses cautious SPD over joining new German coalition

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Acting Chancellor Angela Merkel and deputy leader of Christian Democratic Union Julia Kloeckner attend a party meeting at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) headquarters in Berlin, Germany, on Monday.

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Reuters, Berlin :
Chancellor Angela Merkel piled pressure on Monday on the Social Democrats (SPD) to rejoin a "grand coalition" with her conservatives, arguing that the European Union and the wider world urgently needed a stable German government in place.More than two months after its Sept. 24 national election, Europe's economic and political powerhouse is still without a government and officials say coalition talks may now properly begin only in the new year.
"There are European elections in 2019... so there is a big expectation that we take positions," she told reporters, referring to proposals by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and by French President Emmanuel Macron on the future governance of the EU's currency and economic union. Merkel also cited conflicts in the Middle East, tensions with Russia and relations with the United States as factors that required a Germany "capable of acting".
David McAllister, an executive committee member of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), echoed her views in comments to Reuters, adding that Germany needed to iron out its stance on key EU issues ahead of European Parliament elections in 2019.
"Diligence definitely comes before speed (in forming a coalition) but the government should be formed in time for Germany to be capable of acting if decisions need to be made (in Europe) in 2018," McAllister said.
The conservatives should signal willingness to compromise and avoid drawing red lines as they prepare for talks with the SPD, he said. Preliminary talks are due to begin on Thursday.
While the conservatives and SPD have different opinions on Europe, they managed to work together in a 2013-2017 governing coalition and all major parties in Germany agree on fundamental issues relating to the EU, McAllister added.
Merkel's initial efforts to forge a three-way coalition with the liberals and the Greens collapsed on Nov. 19, forcing her to approach the SPD, which had wanted to go into opposition after suffering its worst election result in German postwar history.

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