MUNICH – Germany has come one step closer to envisioning a new government that would see the end of the term of office of long-time Chancellor Angela Merkel after parties negotiating a coalition announced an agreement on Wednesday.
The country’s center-left Social Democrats have been negotiating a deal with the Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats since their narrow election victory on September 26 in the race to replace Merkel’s outgoing government.
The tops of the three parties announced that an agreement has been reached and presented to the public that will pave the way for center-left leader Olaf Scholz to replace Merkel in the coming weeks.
In a separate statement published online, said the Greens chairmen Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck that the coalition agreement will pave the way for a renewed focus on coping with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis.
“The country is facing major challenges. The pandemic must be overcome, the climate crisis contained, sustainable prosperity restored and cohesion redefined in the face of social change, ”they said.
“All of this requires changes. With this coalition agreement, after intensive negotiations, we have succeeded in setting the course for this, ”said Baerbock and Habeck.
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If party members give the deal the green light, it will replace Germany’s current “grand coalition” made up of the country’s two largest political parties.
Scholz, 63, Merkel’s Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor since 2018, is to replace the Chancellor after she announced in October 2018 that she would not run for a fifth term.
The deal to secure his rise to power came when Merkel, 67, attended what is likely her last cabinet meeting. During the meeting, Scholz presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
The news of Wednesday’s deal was somewhat overshadowed by the worsening Covid-19 situation in Germany, which has seen record numbers of infections in recent days.
Before commenting on the coalition agreement, Scholz said he wanted to talk about the rise in cases and warned that “the situation is serious”.
He announced that his chancellery would have a crisis team and a group of experts that would focus on combating the spread of Covid.
He also promised that the next government would try to step up the vaccination campaign in Germany and issue a vaccination mandate for the health sector.
“Vaccination is the way out of the pandemic,” he said.
Associated press contributed.