Germany's SPD leaders list key demands of Merkel for coalition

Germany's SPD leaders list key demands of Merkel for coalition

BERLIN - Leaders of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) have listed their key demands of Angela Merkel ahead of a meeting on Sunday in which they will seek the backing of 200 core party members for launching formal coalition talks with the chancellor.

These include introducing a nationwide minimum wage of 8.50 euros, equal pay for men and women, a financial transaction tax, greater investment in infrastructure and education, and a strategy to boost growth and employment in the euro zone.

No mention is made however of the tax increases for Germany's wealthiest which the SPD had campaigned for during the election but which the chancellor has absolutely ruled out.

Merkel's conservative bloc - her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) - emerged as the strongest political force in the Sept. 22 election. But they fell several seats short of a parliamentary majority, forcing them to seek a coalition ally.

The SPD, which came a distant second to Merkel, was seen as the most likely partner from the start; however the party is taking a stubborn approach as it struggles to avoid the mistakes it made during its 'grand coalition' with Merkel from 2005-2009.

It emerged from that legislature with its worst election result since World War Two, making many grassroots members highly sceptical about another such union.

"This time I can guarantee that we will not strike a coalition agreement in which we do the opposite of what we pledged in the election," SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel told German newspaper Bild on Saturday.

A draft of the declaration Gabriel will ask the SPD's top cadre to sign on Sunday and made available to Reuters states the SPD "agrees to enter formal coalition talks with the intention of forming a government."

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