German parties prepare to present governing coalition deal

German parties prepare to present governing coalition deal

A Three-way alliance will see Social Democrat Olaf Scholz replace conservative Angela Merkel as chancellor.

The leaders of three German parties are set to present their deal to form a coalition government that will see Social Democrat Olaf Scholz replace conservative Angela Merkel as chancellor, according to an invitation distributed by the Social Democrats.

A news conference scheduled for 3pm local time (14:00 GMT) on Wednesday will follow a final round of talks between the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the ecologist Greens and the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP), the SPD said in its invitation.

The SPD has been negotiating with the Greens and FDP since narrowly winning a national election on September 26.

If approved by party members in the coming weeks, the deal will install the first three-way federal coalition government in Germany since the 1950s and replace the current “grand” coalition of Social Democrats and Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

The new alliance – named a “traffic-light” coalition after the three parties’ respective colours – has pledged to modernise Europe’s largest economy by upgrading its infrastructure and prioritising measures to protect the climate.

Sources told Reuters on Tuesday that the parties had agreed to commit to phasing out coal by 2030 and end power generation from gas by 2040.

At the Free Democrats’ insistence, the prospective partners said they will not raise taxes or loosen curbs on running up debt, making financing a central issue.

Some onlookers fear the parties will struggle to bridge their stark ideological divides, which could, in turn, paralyse a European Union currently grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and rise of authoritarianism.

Still, the parties have defied predictions that talks could last into next year, or even fail, with their promise to deliver a deal two months after September’s election.

The negotiations were relatively harmonious and speedy compared with previous coalition talks.

But the political transition – with Merkel as caretaker – has come at a tumultuous time in Germany, where COVID-19 cases are soaring again amid a fourth wave of infections that has gripped many parts of Europe.

Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats are currently preoccupied with a leadership contest to determine who will become their next leader and revive the party’s fortunes after it suffered its worst-ever election result in September’s poll, following 16 years in power.

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