BERLIN: As many as 49.7 per cent of German nationals evaluated the progress of preliminary negotiations on the coalition government’s formation as unsuccessful, a poll conducted by Spiegel Online newspaper showed on Saturday.
According to the poll, 28.1 per cent of respondents said that the talks’ results were mostly negative, while 21.6 per cent of interviewees estimated the talks’ outcome as definitively negative.
Only 10.3 per cent of German citizens have assessed the talks as very successful, while another 25.5 per cent of respondents said that the outcome was more satisfactory than negative.
Germany held a parliamentary election on September 24, as a result of which none of the parties managed to secure the majority of seats necessary to form a government. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s alliance of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) won the election with 33 per cent of votes and secured 246 seats in the parliament, while the Social Democratic Party (SPD) came second with 20.5 per cent of votes, which is equivalent to 153 seats in the Bundestag.
On January 7, the CDU/CSU and the FDP engaged in so-called preliminary negotiations which resulted in the adoption of the document on forming a coalition government.
Key preliminary outcomes of German coalition talks
- The leaders of the CDU/CSU and the SPD — Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz— agreed to ensure that the number of refugees arriving in the country does not exceed 180,000 to 220,000 people per year.
- Possibilities of family reunification for refugees who have limited asylum status will be narrowed (presumably down to 1000 people per month). The parties plan to discuss new regulations in the area during the round of next talks.
- The two parties have agreed to spend more money on the EU. They decided that it was necessary to strengthen the European Union, thus increasing Germany’s financial contribution to Brussels.
“We want to strengthen the EU financially so that it can better fulfil its tasks: which is why we will take this into account during the preparation of our financial framework for the upcoming years,” the 28-page document, which the two parties agreed upon, said.
- The CDU/CSU and the SPD have made a decision to reform the Eurozone. They plan to increase fiscal controls and strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion. The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should be transformed into the European Monetary Fund, which will be under parliamentary control and enshrined in EU law.
- The implementation of the United States of Europe project proposed by SPD’s Martin Schulz is not in sight. However, Germany and France are understood as the “drivers of innovation” that should take the lead in those areas where other EU member states lack resources.
- The SPD’s health insurance project, according to which the two-tier insurance system (consisting of statutory and private ones) should be eliminated, is off the table. But there are still positive changes for employees in this regard, as companies will now have to pay more for their workers’ health care. This means a return to the principle of parity, according to which employers and employees will pay equal shares for health care. The additional payments that previously had to be paid by employees will be abolished.
- Given the lack of care workers in the country, the parties agreed to launch a special educational program for skilled workers and create 8,000 new jobs in the care sector. They also pledged to increase payments for care workers who work in the elderly care sector.
- The Social Democrats managed to push through their retirement project and stabilized the pension level at 48 per cent of an average salary for the future. They also managed to enforce their initiative to increase pensions for low-income workers.
- The parties agreed to further restrict arms exports and adopt stricter arms exports legislation.
- They, however, have not yet decided on whether the military spending should be increased to reach the NATO target two per cent of GDP for military purposes.
Germany is witnessing a political crisis, as talks to form a new government collapsed in November 2017, after the Free Democratic Party (FDP) withdrew from negotiations on forming the so-called “Jamaica coalition” with the CDU/CSU and the Greens.
Commenting on the current political situation in the country, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “we are now facing a situation that has never happened before in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, that is for almost 70 years.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party is now trying to renew a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Preliminary talks to form the new government are underway.