Germany's SPD denies agreeing coalition talks with Angela Merkel

GERMAN Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz said yesterday that his party is considering backtracking on its pledge not to enter another "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, with internal discussions due to be held next week.

Steinmeier, a former SPD lawmaker and foreign minister, will host a meeting at 1900 GMT on Thursday between Merkel, her Bavarian conservative ally Horst Seehofer and Schulz as part of his efforts to facilitate the formation of a stable government.

Commenting on the SDP's possible coalition with the Conservatives, Schulz has stated that it is not "automatic", adding that the party would discuss alternatives at a meeting next week.

The message is "simply wrong", said Martin Schulz at a press conference at the SPD headquarter.

He said whoever circulated such reports was damaging trust. He had called the chancellor to complain about "inacceptable" leaks to the press, the Social Democrat leader said.

Schulz previously opposed a "grand coalition" with the CDU/CSU, arguing that the election result meant voters had rejected the option of another grand coalition between the SPD and the CDU/CSU.

Should it come to grand coalition negotiations, Schulz indicated he would push for the new government to become even more engaged at the European level, including standing behind French President Emmanuel Macron's push for broad reforms. "We should discuss all of these options and that is what I will recommend to the party leadership Monday".

Although Merkel's bloc is still the biggest group in the parliament, it needs the support of either the SPD, which is the second largest group in Bundestag, or two smaller parties to form a government.

Opinion surveys suggest that the SPD rank-and-file have decidedly mixed feeling about a new edition of the grand coalition, and the party's youth organization, the Jusos, are dead set against it.

Ahead of that congress, which will also decide whether to re-elect Schulz as chief of the SPD, the party's top brass has been careful to tread softly regarding its options.


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