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Stern faces on Thursday night before the talks stalled

Merkel’s coalition talks stalled as disagreements on migration persist

With the deadline just hours away, German chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU, Greens and FDP put their negotiations on ice at 4:30 in the morning local time.

Published: November 17, 2017, 9:52 am

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    The talks to form a three-way government have been stalled until Friday at noon, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. Disagreements on migration policy remain, with an agreement only due in “overtime”.

    Co-leader of the third largest party, the AfD’s Alice Weidel said fresh elections could be looming: “If the (conservative) Union, FDP and Greens don’t reach an agreement soon, there should be new elections.”

    The German daily, the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung is speaking of “massive” differences between the possible “Jamaica” coalition parties, designed to allow Merkel to govern for a fourth term as chancellor.

    This combination, dubbed as the “Jamaican coalition” because the parties’ colours match those of the Caribbean island’s flag, is untested at a national level.

    The three parties decided to halt the talks for several hours after failing to make progress during what was to have been the final session. Merkel, 63, told the media on Thursday that serious differences remained and negotiations could take hours.

    To obtain the necessary majority to form a government, while ostracizing the AfD, Merkel chose the FDP and the Greens as partners. The move is also designed to ensure that instead of AfD, the SPD – the Socialist party – becomes the official opposition.

    If a new government is not formed by Friday, new elections might be pending. The CDU/CSU saw the worst results in their history in the recent German Bundestag election. Talks have been delayed amid differences over migration and finances as well as migration.

    The Greens reportedly do not want to make significant concessions on coal power stations, taxation of Diesel cars or migrants.

    Merkel tried to break the deadlock on climate protection by offering to reduce coal power generating capacity by seven gigawatts, but her offer falls short of the cut demanded by the Greens.

    In exchange the Greens have demanded that the CSU meet them on the “refugee” issue, particularly on “family reunification” suggesting that even more migrants heading for the country.

    “Family reunification” in its current form is estimated to bring between 1-2 million more Syrians into Germany by 2018. Conservatives want to cap the number of migrants to Germany at 200 000, which the Greens reject.

    Polls show that the majority of Germans, especially women, reject this prospect. But hundreds of thousands of “family reunification” visas have already been granted.

    Both the CSU and FDP want to suspend “family reunification”. But according to the Greens, the right to a family is a basic human right, and “a core issue” as far as they are concerned. This “core issue” however does not extend to the majority of German families.

    German media have described the marathon session as the “night of the long knives” as the mood had soured noticeably, with parties breaking off to talks to consult with their respective groups. Party officials, already locked in talks for the past six weeks, were blaming each other for the delay.

    The Greens and the Bavarian wing of the conservatives, the Christian Social Union, have accused each other of blocking an agreement.

    Deputy leader of the FDP, Wolfgang Kubicki said an extension of talks may be needed to find a way forward. But a senior member of the CSU, Joachim Herrmann, said: “I don’t know if we can resolve all the discrepancies, all the disagreements.”

     

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