Merkel said Thursday in final hours of negotiations between the SPD and her alliance of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party -- the Christian Social Union (CSU) -- that the two top parties had yet to surmount major differences before they could declare there were common grounds to form another coalition government.
She said her alliance would “work constructively to find the necessary compromises but we are also aware that we need to execute the right policies for our country.”
SPD leader Martin Schulz also talked about “big obstacles” that remained in the way of a final deal between the two parties, although he was upbeat that such an agreement could finally come through.
Schulz said his party and the Merkel-led alliance had “broad agreement on the fundamentals of European policy,” adding that the SPD wanted to gain assurances from Merkel that a new coalition government would be committed to work for the progress of the European Union.
EU policies are among main bones of contention between Merkel and SPD leaders while the two sides also disagree on immigration, social welfare, tax and other issues.
There is also a possibility that SPD’s mid-rank members could manage to block the initiation of coalition talks with the conservatives, a scenario which would leave Merkel with her last option to form a minority government.
Merkel’s failure in reaching a coalition deal with the Greens and the Liberals following the September elections prompted the German president to call on the SPD to revise its previous decision to go into the opposition. However, opinion polls suggest Merkel’s chance of surviving a full fourth term in office is grim as the veteran leader’s approval rating is falling, mainly due to her controversial asylum policies, which many say have helped the rise of the far-right in Germany and fueled the current political limbo.