Merkel Shows Optimism on SPD Vote to Proceed on Coalition Talks

(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed optimism that Germany’s Social Democrats will vote in favor of coalition talks with her bloc, saying the only way to move forward on Europe was to have a stable government in Berlin.

On a visit to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel reaffirmed on Friday that the two leaders plan to outline European Union reforms by March. Macron praised a preliminary policy outline drafted by Merkel’s bloc and the SPD last week, saying it shows “real ambition for the European project.”

Social Democrat delegates are voting on Sunday on whether to proceed to formal talks on forming another government with Merkel. After suffering its worst federal election defeat since World War II in September, the SPD is split between advocates of staying in government and opponents who say another four years with Merkel will harm the party.

“Of course I’d like to see the SPD convention give the green light for entering into coalition negotiations,” Merkel told reporters alongside Macron in the French capital. “I’m approaching this optimistically.”

Macron’s Push

Merkel defended the draft text produced by her Christian Democratic-led bloc and the SPD, which didn’t spell out Germany’s response to Macron-supported initiatives such as a European finance minister. Merkel said the parties left themselves room to maneuver in potential future talks with France and other EU governments.

“If we determined everything in the exploratory talks down to the last detail, our room to negotiate would be weakened,” she said. “So there are, as one would say, desired ambiguities.”

Macron also said it was too early to discuss technical detail such as the prospective size of a unified budget for the 19-member single currency.

“We must focus on what we want to achieve, not on the instruments before we know what’s needed,” the French leader said.

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