Germany set for new government that will end Merkel’s rule

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The three parties negotiating to form Germany’s next government will finalize and present their coalition agreement on Wednesday, two potential partners said. The deal paves the way for centre-left leader Olaf Scholz to replace longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel in the coming weeks.

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The centre-left Social Democrats have been in talks with the environmentalist Green Party and pro-business Free Democrats since winning a national election on September 26. The latter two parties said the agreement would be presented on Wednesday afternoon.

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If party members sign it, the three-way coalition – which has not yet been tried in a national government – will replace the current “grand alliance” of the country’s traditional major parties. The Social Democrats have served as junior partners to Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats.

Merkel, who did not run for a fifth term, is expected to be succeeded by 63-year-old Scholz, who has been her finance minister and chancellor since 2018.

Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Wednesday. Via Picture Alliance / Getty Images
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The three upcoming governing parties have said they expect parliament to elect Scholz as chancellor in the week beginning 6 December. Before that can happen, the coalition deal requires approval from the nearly 125,000-strong membership of the Greens and the convention’s ballot. of the other two parties.

News of the deal came as Merkel headed what was likely to be her last cabinet meeting. Scholz presented a bouquet of flowers to the 67-year-old, who has led Germany since 2005.

Negotiations on the three-way alliance were relatively cohesive and fast as compared to the previous coalition talks. But political transitions, with Merkel as the lame-duck caretaker, have hampered Germany’s response to the latest surge in coronavirus cases.

Some details have emerged from the in-camera talks, including how the parties will split ministerial portfolios. The coalition is a potentially uncomfortable mix because it brings together two traditionally left-leaning parties, the Free Democrats, who tend to ally with the centre-right.

A preliminary agreement last month indicated that Germany would push forward its deadline to end the use of coal-fired electricity from 2038 to 2030, expanding the rollout of renewable energy generation.

At the urging of the Free Democrats, potential partners said they would not raise taxes or curb debt raising, making funding a central issue.

Merkel’s Christian Democrats are currently busy in a leadership contest to see who will become their next leader and revive the party’s fortunes after its worst-ever election result.

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