German conservatives and Social Democrats agree to coalition talks
13 January 2018
After five days of exploratory talks and an all-night marathon, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) agreed early Friday to initiate formal talks on the continuation of Germany’s grand coalition.
The agreement has to be accepted by an SPD party congress on January 21. Coalition talks, which must be approved by the three parties’ committees and, in the case of the SPD, the full membership, can then begin. If everything runs smoothly, a new government could be formed by the end of March, a full six months after the federal election.
The three party leaders, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Horst Seehofer (CSU) and Martin Schulz (SPD) indicated that they were extremely pleased with the agreement. They presented a 28-page document on the results of the exploratory talks, which conceals a deeply reactionary right-wing programme behind unctuous rhetoric about an “awakening,” “democracy,” “peace” and “justice.”
The first point concerns Europe. It includes much talk of “solidarity,” “values,” “opportunities” and “peace.” But this does not amount to a shift from the government’s previous Europe policy, which aimed to establish German preeminence over Europe.
On the contrary, the paper explicitly calls for a continuation of austerity policies, which have devastated social systems in Greece, Spain and other countries, driven youth unemployment to record levels and led to the growth of right-wing, nationalist tendencies. “We want to [strengthen] the EU’s competitiveness in the context of globalisation,” the paper states, adding, “We want to push ahead with fiscal controls in the…