German Leaders Agree On New Coalition Talks, But Hurdles Remain : Parallels The parties from the last coalition will start negotiations on forming a government. It's only a partial victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel, and concerns remain over the role of a far-right party.
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German Leaders Agree On New Coalition Talks, But Hurdles Remain

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German Leaders Agree On New Coalition Talks, But Hurdles Remain

German Leaders Agree On New Coalition Talks, But Hurdles Remain

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her political allies have crafted a deal that could end a political crisis in her country. For more than three months, the economic and political giant has been without a new government. Merkel's plan is for the same three parties that formed the last government to join together again to run Germany. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Angela Merkel was all smiles as she and the other party leaders announced their hard-fought agreement at a news conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: (Speaking German).

NELSON: She said, "I wasn't certain it would work" and that the negotiators from the ranks of her conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats kept pushing on every issue until they reached a compromise. But it isn't an easy alliance. After federal elections last September left the Social Democrats badly weakened, their leader, Martin Schulz, said they would lead the opposition. He said they would also be a foil to the far-right Alternative for Germany party which entered the Parliament at the same time. But after Merkel failed to form a new government with other parties, pressure began to mount on Schultz and his party to give the grand coalition another shot.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARTIN SCHULZ: (Speaking German).

NELSON: He defended that choice, saying that at a time when German society is drifting apart, the social democrats were choosing to hold their country together. Germany's allies in Europe lauded that decision.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Speaking French).

NELSON: French President Emmanuel Macron, who needs German support to push through his plans for European reform and integration, called the deal good news and said he was very happy. But whether it will lead to a new German government is not yet clear. For one, the proposed coalition still needs the Social Democratic rank and file to approve it at their party congress later this month. Even if Merkel's plan succeeds, it will only be a partial victory for her.

DANIELA SCHWARZER: She will be weaker because it is clear that this is her last chancellorship.

NELSON: Daniela Schwarzer heads the German Council on Foreign Relations.

SCHWARZER: The question will be whether she will stay for the whole term or whether she will actually build a successor and hand over to that person.

NELSON: If the Social Democrats do end up approving the deal, a new German government could be in place by late-March. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin.

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