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Merkel “Optimistic” in New Bid to End Political Impasse

Merkel “Optimistic” in New Bid to End Political ImpasseMerkel “Optimistic” in New Bid to End Political Impasse

Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced optimism as she opened talks Sunday with Germany’s second biggest party on renewing their alliance, in a new attempt at shaking Europe’s biggest economy out of paralysis after September’s inconclusive elections.

The week of meetings between Merkel’s conservative alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) will examine whether both sides have enough common ground to begin formal coalition negotiations towards a new government by March or April, AFP reported.

“I am going into these talks with optimism. At the same time it is clear to me that we will have an enormous amount of work in front of us over the next few days but we are willing to take it on and to bring a good result,” Merkel told journalists as she arrived at the SPD’s headquarters for the meeting.

“I think that it can be done. We will work very swiftly and very intensively,” she added.

The talks are not without pitfalls—including tricky questions surrounding the more than a million asylum seekers who have arrived in Germany since 2015.

The far-right anti-immigration AfD capitalized on growing misgivings in Germany over the new arrivals, winning more than 90 parliamentary seats in the watershed election.

Merkel was left without a majority, while the centre-left SPD found itself with its worst post-war score.

Anxious to stem the hemorrhage to the far right, the conservative wing of Merkel’s party as well as her Bavarian allies CSU are championing a tougher stance on immigration—including demands that are unpalatable to the SPD.

With an eye on a regional election in Bavaria later this year, where current polls show that the CSU could lose its absolute majority, the party wants financial handouts to asylum seekers reduced.

 

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