German SPD leaders aim to improve on coalition deal with Merkel

From Reuters - January 14, 2018

BERLIN (Reuters) - Leading members of Germanys Social Democrats vowed on Sunday to press for improvements to a coalition blueprint they have agreed with Chancellor Angela Merkels conservatives, seeking to win over skeptical party members who can torpedo the agreement.

Social Democrat (SPD) leaders must sell the deal to party members before a congress on Jan. 21 at which delegates vote on the agreement, clinched on Friday after 25 hours of exploratory talks. Only then can they move ahead with formal negotiations.

Negotiations are a different ball game to exploratory talks, Malu Dreyer, premier in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate and an SPD deputy leader, told Funke Mediengruppe.

We will try to achieve more successes in the coalition negotiations, she added.

An opinion poll conducted on Friday and published on Sunday showed 56 percent of Germans welcomed the coalition blueprint, agreed after talks between Merkels conservatives and two smaller parties collapsed in November.

The survey by pollster Emnid for newspaper Bild am Sonntag showed 60 percent of Germans believed the SPD congress should give the go-ahead for coalition negotiations, with 30 percent opposed.

Rank-and-file SPD members are still feeling bruised after the partys worst election result last September since 1933.

Party leaders have their work cut out to persuade the delegates to give them the go-ahead for formal negotiations on forming a renewed version of their 2013-2017 grand coalition with Merkels conservatives.


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