Germany on road to political stability

Germany on road to political stability as coalition talks between Conservatives, SPD gain momentum


Momentum in Germany is building up for a new ‘grand coalition’ between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc as well as the Social Democrats (SPD) to stop the political imbalances caused by the failure of her coalition talks with some other parties.

The conservatives and SPD have ruled collectively during the last 4 years and many ministers are retaining their posts in an interim government until a fresh coalition or minority government is formed.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier hosts an initial meeting of Merkel, the head of Bavaria’s CSU conservatives, Horst Seehofer, and SPD leader Martin Schulz on Thursday.

Below are a few of the overlaps and differences in policy areas probably going to be discussed in every coalition talks.

Finances


Merkel has stressed she would like to sustain Germany’s solid finances. Germany has operated a budget surplus since 2014 under the stewardship of her hardline conservative finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble.


She has also said she wants some tax cuts, mostly for low and medium earners.

The SPD is actually devoted to boosting spending and has in the past couple of days said it wishes to increase investment in education and homes as well as on infrastructure. The SPD hopes to increase inheritance tax, some in the party want to demand to raise the minimum wage and it fought the election on a pledge of keeping pensions stable.

The conservatives and SPD both want to increase spending to expand broadband.

Migration and Security


An area of possible conflict.

Since the election, Merkel has bowed to pressure from her Bavarian allies to put a cap on the number of people Germany will accept on humanitarian grounds. Merkel recurrent on Saturday that she desired to limit the number to about 200,000 a year. The SPD opposes this, arguing it breaches the constitution’s guarantee of asylum to people who are persecuted for political reasons. Some leading party members have said they will not agree to a cap.


Europe


The SPD is more positive than Merkel’s cautious stance towards French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for a eurozone budget and a eurozone finance minister. The SPD also backs the concept of turning the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund along with the lines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

There is little change on the strategy to Brexit talks.

Foreign Policy


Broad agreement on many areas of foreign policy, including with the United States and Turkey. The SPD puts greater concentrate on mending ties with Russia that happen to be hurt by the conflict in Ukraine, however, this is more an issue of nuance than a deep policy rift.

Also, agreement on armed forces missions abroad, although the SPD is more skeptical on NATO, demands to advance towards increasing defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2014.

Social Justice


The SPD fought its election on the platform of social justice and wants to improve a lot of the less affluent.

A long-standing commitment which several senior SPD members have repeated lately is the idea of making health insurance fairer for everybody by introducing a ‘citizen’s insurance’. The SPD also wants to ensure both women and men have equal pay and working conditions.





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