Germany's Scholz moves closer to succeeding Merkel with coalition talks

Germany's Scholz moves closer to succeeding Merkel with coalition talks
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Olaf Scholz, whose Social Democrats (SPD) won Germany's national election last month, announced on Friday that he was in talks with the leaders of two smaller parties to form a coalition, bringing him a step closer to replacing Angela Merkel as chancellor. 

"A new start is possible with the three parties coming together," Scholz said at a press conference announcing the formal talks with the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP), according to Reuters.

A vote on the coalition is expected to take place over the weekend, which could result in a federal-level alliance between the three parties that would be the first of its kind. 

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Because of the party's respective red, green and yellow colors, the move has been referred to as a "traffic light" alliance, with polls showing voters are largely supportive, Reuters noted.

If talks with the SPD go awry, the Greens and FDP have left the door open to negotiate with the Merkel's conservative bloc.  

"If parties that are so different could agree on joint challenges and solutions, then that would be an opportunity to unite our country," said Christian Lindner, who leads the FDP, a more business-oriented party compared to the two other left-leaning groups in the alliance, per Reuters.

The Conservatives have been critical of Scholz's coalition road map, arguing it lacks detail and contradicts itself, Reuters reported.

It includes a goal to strengthen the European Union in addition to addressing other issues like investment commitments and a waiver on tax hikes. The parties also agreed to environmental infrastructure-related concerns like stopping use of coal-fired power stations by 2030 and equipping more rooftops with solar panels, Reuters added.

"I can say with complete certainty that it will be a pro-European government," Merkel said, according to Reuters. "And that's an important message for EU partners."

Greens Co-Chief Annalena Baerbock also added that partnership would be one of "reform and progress to make this the decade of renewal."