Spd and cdu/csu before second exploratory talks: they’ll go through until tomorrow morning

Taxes and the minimum wage: this is what the SPD and the CDU/CSU want to talk about starting Monday afternoon. The signs point to a grand coalition, but there are doubters in both parties.

Chancellor Merkel and SPD party leader Gabriel think: Exploratory talks can also be fun. Photo: dpa

The Berlin coalition poker goes into the decisive round. The CDU/CSU and SPD will meet in Berlin on Monday afternoon for their second round of exploratory talks. At that meeting, the 21 negotiators from the CDU, CSU and SPD want to delve deeper into key issues such as taxes or the minimum wage, and thus sound out whether formal coalition negotiations make sense.

The CDU/CSU and the Greens will then meet for their second round of exploratory talks on Tuesday. CDU Secretary General Hermann Grohe and his CSU colleague Alexander Dobrindt laid out the topics with Green Party leader Cem ozdemir on Sunday evening, according to Bild-Zeitung. Accordingly, the CDU/CSU wants to talk to both potential partners about the complexes of Europe, finances, demographic change, federalism reform, the economy, internal security and foreign policy.

The Green Party leadership wants to decide immediately after the talks on Tuesday whether it will give black-green a chance. The SPD also wants to clarify the situation quickly. If the exploratory talks are successful, a party convention is to decide on Sunday whether negotiations will take place. The SPD members are to vote on a coalition agreement.

There have recently been increasing signs of a grand coalition. However, there is still strong opposition within the SPD to cooperation with the CDU and CSU. SPD Secretary General Andrea Nahles demanded clear commitments from Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) as to what concessions she was willing to make. At the second meeting, she expects "more commitment, first and foremost on the minimum wage, but not only there," Nahles said.

But there are also doubts in the CDU/CSU. Thomas Strobl, deputy chairman of the CDU, also voiced "state policy concerns" about a grand coalition in Die Welt. If the CDU/CSU and SPD were to form a government, the opposition would only get 20 percent of the votes in the Bundestag, so it would not even be able to set up a committee of inquiry.

Hofreiter wants to open up Greens to new alliances

The black-red exploratory talks, which are taking place at the Parliamentary Society near the Reichstag building, have no time limit. It is expected that the meeting could last into the night. Merkel, CSU leader Horst Seehofer and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel had already met at the Chancellor’s Office on Friday to map out the lines.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung reported that the secretaries-general of the CDU and CSU want to work out an offer to limit temporary and contract labor, to introduce a solidarity pension and to introduce nationwide minimum wages. The SPD, on the other hand, is willing to back down from its demand to abolish the childcare allowance, according to Spiegel: it wants to promote a model whereby the federal states can decide for themselves, with the help of an opening clause, whether or not to pay out the benefit.

Before the exploratory talks, the top committees of the SPD, the Greens and the CSU will meet. At the Social Democrats, the executive committee will discuss on Monday morning, at the Greens first the executive committee, then the party council. In Munich, the CSU executive committee is meeting.

The new head of the Green parliamentary group, Anton Hofreiter, wants to open up his party to new alliances in the long term. "I would like to prepare the entire parliamentary group in terms of content and mentally for the fact that both red-green-red and black-green coalitions should be conceivable in the future," he told the Rheinische Post newspaper published in Dusseldorf. What is decisive, he said, is the content. "Red-Green-Red would be a coalition with many similarities in content. Black-green would be more of a complementary coalition."

Altmaier: CDU should keep environment ministry

According to department head Peter Altmaier (CDU), the Federal Environment Ministry should be led by a Christian Democrat even in a new government. He told the Bild newspaper, "That would be good, because environmental protection is a high priority for the CDU." In addition, he said, "undesirable developments of the last 13 years" in energy policy would have to be corrected. This would have to be done "right in the first year of the new coalition."

Altmaier made it clear that the topic of the energy turnaround was a crucial issue for the CDU/CSU’s coalition decision. "The expansion of renewable energies must continue, but in a much more cost-effective and market-based way than before," he said. For a coalition decision, he said, it is important with which party there is the most common ground on this issue. "That’s why the talks with the SPD and the Greens will be exciting, and the decision at the end will not be easy."

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