Exploratory talks drag on in Berlin

The talks between the conservatives, liberals and Greens for the formation of a new governing coalition have dragged on for several weeks now. The main bones of contention are climate protection and migration policy. Some say more attention should be paid to European policy aspects in the talks.

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Zeit Online (DE) /

Too little focus on Europe

Zeit Online notes with consternation that European policy seems to barely figure in the exploratory talks for a new government and blames the chancellor:

“Open confrontation is as little her style as is committing to a major project, as Macron wants her to do. She prefers to remain under cover and act in the penumbra of the negotiating table. This may be a clever strategy but it is not without consequences: Merkel's unstated Europe policy reinforces the already widespread impression that the policies of the EU are a black box - hard to grasp and even harder to see through. Only if European policy becomes more transparent can trust in the EU grow. Merkel is not the only one to blame, but she is the main culprit. The election campaign and the exploratory talks were a missed opportunity in this respect.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Christian values absent on family reunification

The reunification of refugee families is a central bone of contention in the talks, writes former SPD and now AKP politician Ozan Ceyhun in Daily Sabah:

“The subject of their bargain is human beings. Refugees temporarily residing in Germany cannot return to their homeland for a long while due to the ongoing civil war. This is why they are allowed to stay in Germany. However, allowing family reunification for refugees remains a taboo for a party that has the word 'Christian' in its name and emphasizes religious values, not to mention EU values. ... Not only the EU, but also the entire continent is experiencing a major challenge with regard to refugees. ... We will see whether the Greens can take a tough stance for family reunification despite the CSU.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Merkel's loss of power dampens Macron's hopes

The prolonged coalition negotiations in Germany attest to a loss of power on Merkel's part and this doesn't bode well for French President Emmanuel Macron, L'Opinion comments:

“On the one hand her dwindling power allows him to strive for European leadership. ... On the other any hope that the chancellor will impose France's ambitious plans for the Eurozone either on her own party or on her coalition partners is receding into the distance. Thus thoroughgoing reforms are to be put off until after the European elections in May or June 2019 - in the hope that the cards on the continent will be sufficiently reshuffled to allow the formation of a new EU Commission that's more efficient than that of Jean-Claude Juncker.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Voters growing impatient

The slowness of the process for forming a new government is not going down well with the public, Lidové noviny comments:

“Whenever it looks like they're close to an agreement a denial comes, coupled with the repetition of old standpoints from the election campaign. Yet the talks have been of a purely exploratory nature so far. Even after three weeks of intense negotiations the four parties still haven't made any progress on the key topics - migration, climate protection and taxes. The public is getting increasingly angry. According to a survey by [public broadcaster] ARD, 52 percent no longer see a broad coalition as a good option. At the same time support for Angela Merkel's CDU is waning and recently dipped to 30 percent, its lowest point in six years.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Failure of talks would be fatal

The Tagesspiegel takes a dim view of the exploratory talks so far:

“The four parties appear to be trapped in a bubble that seals them off from reality. And reality expects them to damned well hurry up and come to an agreement. But not an agreement in dribs and drabs, worked out bullet point by bullet point only for the whole thing not to make any sense in the end, but a deal on how to consolidate Europe, reform the economy, promote integration and renew society. ... And what if they can't agree? That had better not happen. Because if five out of seven parties can't or don't want to govern together this will cause the republic as we know it to implode. ... The consequences of their failure wouldn't just be more populism but also more extremism driven by the idea: they aren't up to the job anymore; we need something new.”

Népszava (HU) /

No alternative to painful compromises

A successful conclusion to the current coalition talks is already guaranteed, Népszava is convinced:

“Snap elections are not unheard of in Germany. However it's unlikely that this worst-case scenario will come to pass because according to the polls the only party that would benefit from fresh elections is the radical AfD. Consequently there can be no alternative to a compromise in the current coalition talks. The Greens, for example, have already indicated their readiness to make concessions on climate policy. The FDP, for its part, has also let it be known that it is ready to compromise on its fiscal policy objectives. And even the CSU will no doubt cede some ground on migration policy as new elections would probably spell the end for the party's current leadership. For this reason a Jamaica coalition [so named in reference to the black, green and yellow colours of the CDU/CSU, the Greens and the FDP respectively] is as good as certain.”