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Germany may not agree new coalition until next year: Merkel ally
October 10, 2017 / 1:14 PM / 7 days ago

Germany may not agree new coalition until next year: Merkel ally

Alexander Dobrindt arrives for a meeting of the Christian Social Union CSU in Berlin, Germany September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany may need to wait until next year for a new government as the three blocs trying to form an alliance are so far apart they need a detailed coalition deal, a senior Bavarian ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Reuters.

Alexander Dobrindt, parliamentary floor leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), said a coalition agreement would have to be more detailed than the one that accompanied the Grand Coalition in the last parliament.

Merkel, humbled in last month’s national election by a surging far-right, is trying to broker a three-way coalition of her conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens - a combination previously untested at federal level.

The task is further complicated by the fact that Merkel’s conservative bloc compromises her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and CSU, whose alliance has been strained by her open-door migrants policy.

The conservative allies removed one obstacle to forming a new coalition on Sunday by agreeing a limit on the number of migrants arriving in Germany. But Dobrindt of the CSU said in an interview with Reuters television that securing a three-way alliance would be hard.

“As we know that the points that separate us outweigh those we have in common, one can have doubts about whether a coalition agreement is possible this year,” Dobrindt said.

“It is conceivable that we can’t complete in December and that final talks - if there even are any - will only possible next year,” he added.

The three-way tie-up - dubbed a “Jamaica” coalition after the black, green and yellow colours of the three party blocs, which match the Caribbean island’s flag - is Merkel’s only realistic option of forming a government.

The centre-left Social Democrats, her previous partners in a the Grand Coalition, insist they want to go into opposition.

A Jamaica coalition was formed in the tiny western state of Saarland in October 2009, but collapsed in January 2012. The same formation took power in the far northern region of Schleswig-Holstein after elections there in May this year.

BIG DIFFERENCES

At a national level, the three party groups have deep differences on issues ranging from migration to European Union reform, tax and the environment. Dobrindt said this meant they would have to nail down a detailed agreement.

“We need, in a possible Jamaica coalition agreement, a significantly higher level of detail than was the case with the grand coalition,” he said. “The differences between the parties are big, so the agreements need to go deeper.”

In their compromise struck on Sunday, the CDU and CSU agreed to limit to 200,000 the number of people Germany would accept per year on humanitarian grounds.

The FDP and Greens insist the conservatives’ agreement cannot simply be copied into a coalition deal.

But Dobrindt, whose CSU is worried about losing its regional dominance in a Bavarian state election next year, said the allies’ accord must be reflected in a coalition deal.

“The regulations we have made in our joint paper - ‘Rules on Migration’ - are of course an essential part of the negotiations and must also be found in a coalition agreement,” he said.

The intransigence of the CSU, the Greens and the FDP on the migrants issue points to difficult coalition talks that risk clouding the political outlook in Germany, which has been a source of stability in Europe during Merkel’s 12 years in power.

“We want Europe to concentrate more on the big tasks and less on the small tasks,” Dobrindt said. “That means we must talk about bringing back responsibilities from Brussels to Germany - and the details of that will no doubt be difficult.”

Reporting by Paul Carrel and Andreas Rinke

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