Sunday, 16 December 2018 | News today: 2

New German coalition deal signed


The parties forming the new German coalition have formally signed the document outlining their plans for government, dpa news agency reports.

The party and parliamentary faction leaders of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) signed the document originally agreed in February on Monday in Berlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the CDU, Horst Seehofer of her Bavarian conservative allies the Christian Social Union (CSU) and acting SPD leader Olaf Scholz signed the 177-page document in the Bundestag complex in Berlin.

The chairs and general secretaries of the three parties also signed the document in the Paul Loebe Building.

Merkel said she is “optimistic” about her new coalition government, which is due to be sworn in this week after almost six months of political deadlock.

“A great amount of work lies before us,” Merkel said at a press conference ahead of the signing ceremony. “I am optimistic that it will be a success.”

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed his relief that the new government had been formed. “I am happy that the period of insecurity and uncertainty is passing,” he said in the city of Dusseldorf. “Impatience was growing in the past few weeks during the negotiations and [SPD] poll period.”

The path was finally cleared for Chancellor Angela Merkel to revive the coalition after SPD members voted to approve the deal two weeks ago.

A CDU/CSU-SPD grand coalition has ruled Germany since 2013, but when all three parties lost support in September’s general election, the SPD initially said it would go into opposition and regroup.

Merkel’s failed attempt to form a coalition with the free-market liberal FDP and environmentalist Greens persuaded the SPD to go back on this decision.

Lawmakers are due to vote Merkel back in as chancellor on Wednesday, when she and her cabinet are also due to be sworn in.