(Left-right): Number two of the Social Democrats, Ralf Stegner; the minister president of the state of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, of the CDU, and the German interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, in Berlin during the negotiations to form a government
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Social Democrats reached an agreement in principle this Friday morning to form a government that would allow Germany to emerge from an unprecedented political blockade, after more than 24 hours of marathon negotiations.
A source close to the talks told AFP that an „unblocking“ agreement had been reached to form a „grand coalition.“
A deputy of the Chancellor’s political family, Dorothee Bär, confirmed the agreement by publishing a photo of the document on Twitter.
According to the text, consulted by the AFP, the agreement provides among other measures to limit the number of refugees to about 200,000 per year. Also, a commitment to „reinforce“ the euro zone, which falls within the requirements set by the social democrats of the SPD.
„If we accepted to enter the government, it would be with the condition of reinforcing Europe,“ its leader, Martin Schultz, insisted on Thursday.
The agreement will now have to be submitted for approval during the day to the governing bodies of the three parties concerned, the Christian Democrats (CDU / CSU) and especially the SPD, which reluctantly entered into the negotiations after a humiliating defeat in the legislative of September.
This commitment can allow the first European economy to leave three and a half months of political blockade. And to Merkel, 63, to ensure her political survival, with a possible fourth term after 12 years in power.
Refugees in Hamburg, city of northern Germany, on July 20, 2017
After the failure in November to form a majority coalition with the ecologists and liberals, the chancellor had run out of margin of error if she wanted to keep the reins of the country. And she had declared herself willing to „find a constructive compromise“ with the SPD but without crossing some red lines.
– Nothing definitive yet –
But nothing is still final. On the part of the Social Democrats, the decision to enter a new coalition government with the conservatives should also receive the green light from the party’s delegates during an extraordinary congress scheduled for January 21 and whose outcome is uncertain.
Then, if the yes is achieved, detailed negotiations on a coalition program will begin.
In the best of cases, the new executive will be invested at the end of March, while the European partners in Germany become impatient.
The Social Democrats had opted at first for the opposition.
But the pressure of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a heavyweight SPD who wants to avoid new elections that could benefit the extreme right, forced Schulz to change his position.
Then, faced with the difficulty in reaching an agreement between Christian Democrats and social democrats, Steinmeier called on both camps to overcome their differences in the name of national interest.
According to several German media, the negotiations had skidded all night on Thursday and early Friday on tax issues and immigration policy. Initiated five days ago, on Thursday they had entered a final marathon session.
The German chancellor had never negotiated so long on any issue, the daily Die Welt noted: the negotiations for the maintenance of Greece in the euro zone or the Minsk peace treaty for eastern Ukraine had lasted „only“ 17 hours.
– Unfavorable political context –
The negotiations took place in an unfavorable political context for both the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, both sanctioned by the voters in the September legislative elections marked by the entrance into the parliament of the extreme right.
Between the two they only add a small majority of votes. Merkel won a Pyrrhic victory with a historically low result.
A majority of Germans (56%) believe that the chancellor will leave office before the end of her eventual next term, according to a survey.
The conservatives and the SPD, which have already governed together twice during the past 12 years, had each promised „a new policy“ adapted to the current era, despite their great divergences in certain matters.
The rightists, in particular the CSU, which has begun its campaign for the regional elections at the end of the year, demanded a tightening of the migration policy and a limited tax reduction for all.
The SPD defended a relaxation of family reunification for refugees, investments in education and infrastructures and greater support for the middle and underprivileged classes.