German Social Democrats inch toward Merkel coalition talks

No German 'grand coalition' yet: SPD's Schulz

Merkel's chief of staff Peter Altmaier has ruled out any forms of cooperation in parliament with the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) less than two weeks after the Free Democratic Party (FDP) pulled out of coalition talks and with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz saying he hasn't yet given the green light for a coalition with Merkel's conservative union and the allied Greens.

Schulz, Merkel and her Bavarian ally Horst Seehofer agreed to meet at Germany's presidential palace to explore the possibility of forming a so-called grand coalition like the one that makes up the outgoing government.

"Regarding the formation of a new government, there was broad support for not ruling any option out", SPD leader Martin Schulz said after party board discussions in Berlin.

"It doesn't automatically mean a grand coalition, we have time and we will also discuss other possible options during the SPD party congress", said Schulz. "The way that erroneous reports are circulated destroys trust".

Merkel this week said she hoped to talk with the Social Democrats "in a serious, engaged, honest way and obviously with the intention of success". By contrast, Steinmeier - himself a former SPD leader - is known to favor the grand coalition option.

Canada's Unemployment Rate Plunges To Lowest In Nearly A Decade
On a year-over-year basis, the number of people drawing a paycheque in Saskatchewan was down one percent from November of 2016. London unemployment rate hovered below six per cent for most of the summer before it rose to its current level in October.

Germany's new government is still in vacancy after the September 24 federal elections and the exploratory talks between the Union, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens broke down on the night of November 19.

The SPD will hold a party congress in Berlin on December 7-9, where it is expected to debate its options. "That's exactly what I will propose to the party leadership on Monday", Schulz said.

Meantime, she continues to head a caretaker government made up of her conservatives and the Social Democrats.

Angela Merkel faces demands for sweeping European Union reform and further integration as the price of a new coalition government in Germany, it emerged on Friday.

"We need a different Europe and the initiatives that the French president has suggested should not be given a "no" from Berlin or left unanswered", he said, referring to Macron's ideas of creating a new eurozone finance minister position and giving the 19-member zone its own budget.

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