Merkel’s Bavarian Allies Take Shot at SPD as Final Talks Loom
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies warned the Social Democrats to reel in their spending demands, citing “difficult days” ahead as they aim to complete talks to form a German government by the middle of next week.
While Merkel told a convention of the Bavarian Christian Social Union that the negotiations can’t be about sticking to “red lines,” CSU delegates attacked the SPD for making excessive spending demands even after the party lost to Merkel in the Sept. 22 election. Merkel’s bloc and the SPD want to wrap up two months of coalition talks on Nov. 27.
“The SPD has to recognize that it lost the election,” CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt, a lead negotiator, told the party meeting in Munich. “We can only talk on that basis.”
Merkel confronted increased resistance to a so-called grand coalition this week from within her bloc as she warned her Christian Democratic Union that the party will have to concede to the SPD’s demand for a nationwide minimum wage.
The chancellor repeated to the Bavarian delegates that “we’ll have to compromise,” as CSU Chairman Horst Seehofer said their faction will move forward to lock in an agreement in five days. Party chiefs will meet on Nov. 25 in Berlin to thrash out differences before negotiators come together the next day to finalize the talks by mid-week.
“We will hopefully be able to form a government and then this government will take up its work,” Merkel said in the Bavarian capital. “It certainly won’t always be easy.”
Merkel’s CDU and the CSU had their best result in the Sept. 22 vote since reunification, placing the bloc five seats short of an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament, forcing Merkel to find a governing partner.
The SPD agreed to enter talks to forge a government only after two delegation votes and a menu of 10 “essential” demands, including a minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.50) an hour. The party set up a further hurdle after it pledged to put any draft accord to a vote of its 470,000 members, a process due to take about two weeks.
Tensions arose last week after SPD leaders were buffeted by internal opposition at a party conference in Leipzig, prompting Chairman Sigmar Gabriel to demand that Merkel “deliver” on policy. Officials in Merkel’s bloc, including Seehofer, responded that they wouldn’t shy away from new elections of negotiations failed.
“I say to the SPD: your election program of state spending and tax increases was voted down,” Dobrindt told the crowd in Munich.
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