German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc and the Social Democrats agreed to hold more exploratory talks on Oct. 14 as they seek to establish common ground to form a governing coalition.
Merkel and senior members of her Christian Democratic Union, their CSU Bavarian allies and the Social Democrats declined to tackle the policy areas of greatest contention during about three hours of talks in Berlin today. The 21 negotiators opted instead to hold more detailed discussion of matters such as taxes at their next meeting.
“We’ve tried to start exploratory talks not by putting the focus on our differences,” Alexander Dobrindt, general secretary of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, told reporters after the meeting. Andrea Nahles, the SPD general secretary, said the talks had taken place in an “open-minded atmosphere.”
Tax policy is emerging as a key sticking point to coalition building after the Sept. 22 election, with SPD members calling on Merkel’s bloc to drop its opposition to income-tax increases if it wants to form a so-called grand coalition of the two main parties. Merkel, who needs a coalition partner to govern, is keeping her options open with separate exploratory talks scheduled with the Greens on Oct. 10.
“It makes sense and it’s necessary to hold a second round” of talks with the SPD, Herman Groehe, the CDU general secretary, told reporters today. Dobrindt said that all parties were handling this situation “with great seriousness and a great sense of responsibility.”
“We have found common and also consensual points on the substantive matters,” Nahles said. “We have also identified contentious issues and also identified differences. Therefore further talks are essential.”