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13 January 2018, 04:37 | Devin Moran
Germany Hints At Solidarity Tax Cut
Meet the new Germangovernment, same as the old German government.
Merkel, who pledged before September's election to stick to the 2020 target, has been dubbed the "Climate Chancellor" for her ambitious aims for renewable energy.
Set up specialist government commission to examine Germany's ability to integrate migrants and report to the German lower house of parliament.
The draft programme, outlining policy goals during Merkel's fourth term, must now be approved by 600 SPD delegates at a party congress on Jan 21 and then by the party's more than 400,000 rank and file members. She vowed at a summit of European Union leaders last month to develop joint positions on Europe with the French president by March.
Even if the two sides decide they have the basis for coalition talks, such negotiations would require the approval of a Social Democrat congress on January 21, and the party's leadership will have to overcome strong reservations among members. Other provisions in the 28-page plan include a goal to end coal energy in 2018, the support of European Union policies for open and fair trade, an increase in child benefits, support for climate protection, no tax increases, and a gradual reduction of the solidarity tax paid by former West Germany regions to former East Germany regions.
There's certainly no one who could immediately fill the outsize role that Merkel has played in global affairs. "I knew it would be hard".
To halt a haemorrhage to the far right, Merkel's alliance wants a tougher stance on immigration, something that is hard to sell to the centre-left SPD. That initially led Schulz to vow to head into opposition to rebuild the party's fighting spirit and voter appeal.
Merkel's conservative bloc ally, Horst Seehofer, said that if Schulz's party supports the blueprint, a formal coalition agreement may be reached before Easter.
"We've been here for 24 hours and I wasn't sure we would succeed", Merkel said.
Many SPD rank-and-file fear a repeat grand coalition would further diminish the identity of the party, which suffered its worst result in September's vote since the modern Federal Republic was founded in 1949.
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". That is a big concern among many German politicians, given AfD was the third largest vote-getter after the conservatives and the Social Democrats.
The in-principle pact after months of paralysis averts the unpopular prospect of snap elections for now, but there are still several hurdles to clear, some of which may prove perilous. "And that's something that Germany really has to prepare for".
Despite the two sides' apparent commitment to keeping it together, the latest opinion polls suggest that a potential new grand coalition enjoys little favour with Germans.
Under the blueprint, Germany will seek to limit the annual intake of people seeking safe haven to around 200,000, in line with a long-standing demand of the CSU, whose southern state of Bavaria was at the frontline of the refugee arrivals.
The outcome of the talks this week will have widespread effects on a number of important issues outside of Germany, including power dynamics in the European Union and the refugee crisis.
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