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German coalition talks 'to move on to next stage' after marathon session

German coalition talks 'to move on to next stage' after marathon session

"People want that this country works", she said, and a government that "works seriously to lay the groundwork that we will live well in Germany in 10 and 15 years' time".

At the start of the final day of exploratory talks that could lead to formal negotiations, Merkel said it would be an arduous day but she recognised that Germans expected results. As it stands, Germany is a key partner in Europe - more so than the United Kingdom at this point - on a number of issues, ranging from sanctions against Russian Federation to economic ties with Europe.

Commenting on the current political situation in the country, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that "we are now facing a situation that has never happened before in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, that is for nearly 70 years".

Merkel initially turned to two smaller parties, the Free Democrats and Greens, to form a new coalition government for her fourth term.

The agreement was welcomed by France and the European Commission, where concerns have mounted in recent months that the window for reforming Europe could close without a German breakthrough.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier reminded all sides that they "have a responsibility towards Europe and for reliability, partnership and engagement in worldwide politics".

Baasner said in the context of the right-populism, the Brexit and an isolationist United States, Europeans are discussing how and where will they go.

Every political career ends, and Merkel's finale may be coming faster than just about anyone had predicted.

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Both sides then need to come to an actual coalition agreement, which would have to be approved in a ballot of the Social Democrats' entire membership.

The parties agreed to spend more on the European Union - a long way short of Schulz's ambition to create a "United States of Europe" by 2025.

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.

Beyond fiscal and spending issues, the parties are struggling to fend off the encroaching far right, which has seized on anger over the influx of refugees and netted a record showing at the polls in September.

Another skeptical SPD parliamentarian, Marco Bülow, warned the deal would not ameliorate "great inequality" in Germany but boost left and far-right sentiment while further eroding decades of support for the SPD and Merkel's conservatives.

Even if negotiators find a deal, it can still be torpedoed when SPD delegates and later rank-and-file members get to vote on whether the traditional labour party should once again govern in Merkel s shadow.

Indeed, SPD leader Martin Schulz stressed during the January 12 press conference that his party was willing to accept compromises and join coalition talks for the sake of guaranteeing cohesion and stability in Germany. The preliminary deal could still be derailed by many still-skeptical SPD members and needs approval at the party's congress on Jan.21. "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.

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