Three German parties have reached a deal to form a new government that will end the era of longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Olaf Scholz, who is poised to replace her.
Scholz, of the center-left Social Democrats, said he expects that members of the parties will give their blessing to the deal in the next 10 days.
At a news conference, Scholz and other leaders gave some indications of how the coalition would govern.
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Among the first measures agreed: compulsory vaccinations in places where particularly vulnerable people are cared for, with the option of expanding that rule. That comes as Germany is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, and the political transition has somewhat hampered the country’s response.
Scholz also stressed the importance of a sovereign Europe, friendship with France and partnership with the United States as key cornerstones of the government’s foreign policy – continuing a long post-war tradition.
The new government will not seek “the lowest common denominator, but the politics of big impacts,” Scholz promised.
Robert Habeck, co-leader of the environmentalist Green Party, meanwhile, said measures planned by the government would put Germany on a path to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
The Social Democrats have been negotiating with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats since narrowly winning a national election on Sept. 26.
If party members sign off on it, the three-way alliance – which has never yet been tried in a national government – will replace the current “grand coalition” of the country’s traditional big parties. The Social Democrats have served as the junior partner to Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats.
Merkel, who didn’t run for a fifth term, is expected to be succeeded by Scholz, 63, who has been her finance minister and vice chancellor since 2018.
The three would-be governing parties have said they hope parliament will elect Scholz as chancellor in the week beginning Dec. 6. Before that can happen, the deal requires approval from a ballot of the Greens’ roughly 125,000-strong membership and from conventions of the other two parties.
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News of the deal came as Merkel led what was likely to be her last Cabinet meeting. Scholz presented the 67-year-old, who has led Germany since 2005, with a bouquet of flowers.
The negotiations over the alliance were relatively harmonious and speedy compared to previous coalition talks. But the alliance is a potentially uneasy mixture because it brings together two traditionally left-leaning parties with one, the Free Democrats, that has tended to ally with the center-right.
Few details have emerged from the closed-doors talks, including how the parties will divide up the ministerial portfolios.
A preliminary agreement last month indicated that Germany would bring forward its deadline for ending the use of coal-fueled power from 2038 to 2030, while expanding the rollout of renewable energy generation.
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At the Free Democrats’ insistence, the prospective partners said they won’t raise taxes or loosen curbs on running up debt, making financing a central issue.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats are currently preoccupied with a leadership contest over who will become their next leader and revive the party’s fortunes after it suffered its worst-ever election result.