The exploratory talks between the SPD, Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the CDU’s Bavarian-based ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU), bring Europe’s biggest economy closer to ending months of political deadlock following September’s inconclusive national election.
“No matter what comes now or how it turns out, I believe that we need both more political argument but also more alignment between the CDU-CSU and SPD,” SPD parliamentary leader Andreas Nahles told German radio.
She confirmed that Wednesday had been set aside for the launch of coalition talks after SPD members attending a party congress on Thursday reluctantly voted to meet with Merkel.
SPD chief Martin Schulz told the 600 or so delegates attending the conference in Berlin that the party would ensure that key elements of its programme form part of any new coalition pact with Merkel.
Those elements include a new immigration law and a reimagining of the EU as well as education and health reform.
In addition to Schulz and Merkel, Wednesday’s talks are to be attended by CSU chief Horst Seehofer, SPD leader Nahles, leading CDU parliamentarian Volker Kauder and the CSU’s Alexander Dobrindt, party officials said.