Talks on creating German coalition govt enter final round

Infographic showing party supporters views of a grand coalition

Mrs Merkel's attempt to put together a government with two smaller parties collapsed in November.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) reached agreement on energy and agriculture on February 3, but were still in dispute over healthcare during talks to form a government, more than four months after the election. Talks are set to resume at 10 a.m. local time (0900 UTC) on Monday, with Tuesday also earmarked for further negotiations if necessary.

The two main points of contention between the two sides concern health care and labor policy.

"We know what task we have and are trying to do it justice".

SPD deputy Manuela Schwesig urged the conservatives to compromise on abolishing fixed-term contracts for workers and reforming Germany's public-private healthcare system. Germany's current system is seen by many as unfair, since privately insured citizens tend to get better and preferential treatment.

Both main parties reached a breakthrough deal in January when they presented an in-principle agreement to start formal coalition talks that could lead to a new government for the biggest European Union economy by the end of March.

The two camps made some progress on labor policy on Friday by agreeing that employees in companies with more than 45 employees should have the right to move seamlessly back and forth between full- and part-time work. The CDU and its Bavaria-based CSU sister party have balked at both. "My guess is that things will go well", he told public television. There are a dozen more points of contention. "If we can't do it tonight, we will continue tomorrow, because the problems have to be solved", he said.

The parties had on Sunday agreed to invest more than 2 billion euros in social housing by 2021.

Families with children will receive an additional €1,200 per child, per year over 10 years, with the money meant to go towards funding the children's future homes.

The agreement calls for legislation that legally anchors citizens' "right to fast internet" by 2025 as well as for Germany to establish a fund of between Euro 10 and Euro 12 million to finance the nationwide expansion of broadband internet, including in every school in Germany and in rural areas.

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