Political leaders in Germany have reached a breakthrough in talks to form a new coalition government, following months of uncertainty after elections in September failed to produce an overall majority for any party.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian alliance (the CDU-CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), led by Martin Schulz, have agreed on a deal to form a coalition government. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Merkel said the talks had been difficult, but worth it.
"I am convinced the coalition treaty can be the basis of a good and stable government," she said, adding that solid finances, infrastructure investment and digitalization would be key focuses for the government.
German newspaper Bild reported that Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (and its sister party, the Christian Social Union, or CSU) will be given the economy and defense ministries in the agreement, while the SPD was reported to have been given the finance ministry.
German news agency DPA also reported that the SPD's Olaf Scholz, currently mayor of Hamburg, is to become the finance minister. The Exterior Ministry is also said to have been given to the SPD with speculation that party leader Schulz could be put in charge.
Merkel said compromises had been made, especially in the division of ministries. She also noted that many conservatives will not be happy with the SPD taking over the finance ministry.
Talks between the parties have been going on for days, having missed a self-imposed deadline of Sunday, and went into the night on Tuesday. In particular, health care and labor market policy proving sticking points in the talks.