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

Axel Schäfer hit out at Angela Merkel over her leadership on Europe

Schulz was speaking after attending a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Bavarian ally Horst Seehofer with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier late on Thursday that aimed to end political deadlock in Europe's largest economy.

"We have several options for forming a government", he said.

Ms Merkel is casting around for a coalition partner after her centre-right bloc shed support to the far right in a September 24 election and her attempts to form a three-way tie-up with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens failed.

In a sign of the ongoing friction between Schulz and Merkel's bloc that may make negotiations hard, he blamed the Bild report on a leak from her side and said he had telephoned her Friday to say it was "unacceptable". "We should discuss each of these options", he said, and ruled out any hasty decisions under time pressure.

Friends of Germany and Europe around the world have been breathing a sigh of relief at the newfound willingness of Germany's Christian Democrats and Social Democrats (SPD) to discuss reprising their grand coalition government.

The SPD will hold a party congress in Berlin on December 7-9, where it is expected to debate its options.

Mrs Merkel has been accused of trying to lead the whole of Europe from Germany
GettyMrs Merkel has been accused of trying to lead the whole of Europe from Germany

Merkel would have few problems getting her parliamentary group to go along with talks about extending their current collaboration with the Social Democrats, as there is broad consensus among conservatives that a grand coalition is the only way forward.

Merkel's camp said the ball was in the SPD's court. "The fact that we underlined today that we are prepared to enter such talks with the SPD shows that we're aiming to bring these talks to a successful conclusion".

SPD leader Martin Schulz told Spiegel magazine that he would insist on a far-reaching reform of the European Union (EU) and German social policy.

On Friday morning, the leaders of the SPD, CDU and CSU briefed their respective parties on the results of Thursday's emergency talks with the president.

According to Schulz, the key demands of his party are a need to reform the European Union, improve healthcare, as well as the European Union and answer French President Emmanuel Macron's Eurozone reform proposals positively.

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