German Social Democrats inch toward Merkel coalition talks

German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz. | AFP

The chairman said the SPD's executive committee would discuss various options on Monday, and make a proposal which would be discussed at SPD's party conference from December 7 to 9 in Berlin.

The leader of Germany's Social Democratic party on Friday denied reports he had green-lighted talks about another "grand coalition" with Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.

The SPD, which saw its participation in a Merkel-led coalition government from 2013-17 rewarded with its worst election result in German post-war history, had been strongly opposed to another "grand coalition".

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.

Merkel, her own political future on the line after 12 years at the helm, is making overtures to the center-left SPD - her partner in government over the past four years - after her bid to form a three-way coalition with two smaller parties failed.

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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Mr Schulz and Mrs Merkel met on Thursday night to discuss a possible new coalition or SPD support for a minority government, and initial reports suggested the talks had gone well.

On Friday, her party reiterated that stance, with the CDU's Klaus Schueler saying after a telephone conference of the party leadership: "The CDU is ready to hold serious talks with the SPD to build a stable government".

A rebellion is already brewing over entering into a new grand coalition, known as "GroKo" in German.

"Berlin can not perpetually answer suggestions from the French president with a no", he said.

Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, has said he wants changes in Germany's approach to the European Union and in economic and social policy.

"A positive response to Emmanuel Macron will be a key demand in any negotiation with the SPD".

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