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Leaders of Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union bloc and the centre-left Social Democrats have cleared a first hurdle towards the formation of the next German government after marathon overnight talks.

Merkel, the German chancellor, and the Social Democrats’ (SPD) leader, Martin Schulz, on Friday morning recommended moving on to formal coalition negotiations after agreeing compromises on issues ranging from European integration via healthcare to migration quotas.

“We have realised that the world isn’t waiting for us,” Merkel said at a press conference on Friday morning. “We are convinced that Europe needs a fresh start and have developed the right ideas to go with it.”

“I believe we have reached outstanding results,” Schulz added.

Their optimism comes at the end of a period of rare political uncertainty, prompted by inconclusive federal election results in September. The collapse of talks to form an unorthodox “Jamaica” coalition between the CDU, the FDP and the Green party even led to speculation that Merkel would resign as she faced the prospect of leading a weakened minority government.

German media reported that the breakthrough was reached after Merkel’s conservatives ceded to SPD demands for an equalisation of health-insurance contributions made by employers and employees.

Under Germany’s multipayer healthcare system, employers and employees previously contributed an equal amount towards each person’s statutory sickness fund, but since the system was changed in 2005, people have increasingly had to shoulder additional payments. Read More …

 

Their optimism comes at the end of a period of rare political uncertainty, prompted by inconclusive federal election results in September. The collapse of talks to form an unorthodox “Jamaica” coalition between the CDU, the FDP and the Green party even led to speculation that Merkel would resign as she faced the prospect of leading a weakened minority government. German media reported that the breakthrough was reached after Merkel’s conservatives ceded to SPD demands for an equalisation of health-insurance contributions made by employers and employees.