- Party committees vote this weekend on opening negotiations
- Party leaders agree on a roadmap for the talks
- Roadmap includes larger investments in infrastructure, no tax increases
BERLIN, October 15 (Reuters) – The leader of the center-left German Social Democrats (SPD) Olaf Scholz took an important step to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor on Friday, announcing that he and the leaders of two smaller parties intended to move forward in formal coalition talks.
SPD leaders, who won last month’s election, the business-friendly Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), said the exploratory talks had been constructive and enabled them to establish a roadmap for more formal negotiations.
Party committees are expected to vote this weekend on whether to do so, bringing them closer to forming a “traffic light” alliance after their respective colors red, yellow and green – the first of its kind at the federal level.
The Greens and the FDP have kept open the possibility of turning to the conservatives, who have been in power for 16 years, if talks with the SPD fail. The Conservatives criticized the roadmap as contradictory and lacking in detail.
But polls show most voters support a traffic light alliance and even top-tier Tories have given up on leading the next government.
“A new start is possible with the rapprochement of the three parties,” Scholz said at a press conference.
He then told RTL television: “We want to do so well that we will be re-elected,” adding that tax cuts for low wages and better wages were essential to his vision.
“If such different parties could agree on common challenges and solutions, then this would be an opportunity to unite our country,” said Christian Lindner, leader of the FDP, the outsider in a marriage that includes two parties. from the left.
According to the roadmap for coalition talks seen by Reuters, the parties have agreed on major points such as the central role of the transatlantic partnership and NATO in German security and the need to strengthen the Union. European.
“I can say with complete certainty that it will be a pro-European government,” Merkel told reporters in Brussels. “And this is an important message for the partners of the EU. “
Carsten Nickel of Teneo, a political risk consultancy, said the roadmap suggested parties seemed “less flexible” on reforming the European Union’s fiscal rules enshrined in its Stability and Growth Pact, embracing the fiscal conservatism of the FDP.
But the document also suggests they might be more willing to consider a permanent role for the EU’s pandemic stimulus fund, Nickel said, winking at the SPD, who spoke of taking action. measures towards a fiscal union in Europe.
Several economists told Reuters they were encouraged by the roadmap, which promised a waiver of tax increases and a commitment to provide funds for public and private investment.
The parties also agreed to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030 in the roadmap and use 2% of the land for onshore wind farms, equip all suitable rooftops with solar panels and reduce by half the planning and authorization time. .
Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock said it should be a coalition of “reform and progress to make it the decade of renewal”.
Additional reporting by Paul Carrel, Andreas Rinke, Holger Hansen and Maria Sheahan; Written by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Kirsti Knolle and Giles Elgood
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