Three German parties have reached an agreement to form a new government that will end the era of longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Olaf Scholz, who is ready to replace her.
Scholz of the center-left Social Democrats said he expects members of the parties to give their blessing to the deal within the next 10 days.
At a news conference, Scholz and other leaders gave some indications of how the coalition would govern.
Among the first agreed measures: Compulsory vaccinations in places where particularly vulnerable people are cared for with the possibility of extending that rule. It comes as Germany is experiencing an increase in cases and the political transition has to some extent hampered the country’s response.
Scholz also stressed the importance of a sovereign Europe, friendship with France and partnership with the United States as the keystones of the government’s foreign policy – a continuation of a long post-war tradition.
The new government will not seek “the lowest common denominator, but the policy with major consequences,” Scholz promised.
Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Green Party, meanwhile, said measures planned by the government would put Germany on a path to meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The Social Democrats have been negotiating with the Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats since they narrowly won a national election on 26 September.
If party members sign it, the three-way alliance – which has never been tried in a national government – will replace the current “grand coalition” of the country’s traditional big parties. The Social Democrats have served as junior partners for Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats.
Merkel, who did not run for a fifth term, is expected to be succeeded by Scholz, 63, who has been her finance minister and chancellor since 2018.
The three future governing parties have said they hope parliament will elect Scholz as chancellor in the week beginning December 6. Before that can happen, the agreement requires approval from a vote of the Greens’ approximately 125,000-strong members and from conventions of the other two parties.
The news of the deal came as Merkel, 67, chaired what would likely be her last cabinet meeting after 16 years in office. Scholz handed her a bouquet of flowers at the meeting.
Negotiations on the alliance were relatively harmonious and rapid compared to previous coalition negotiations. But the alliance is a potentially troubled mix because it brings together two traditionally left-wing parties with one, the Free Democrats, which has tended to ally with the center-right.
Few details have emerged from the closed-door negotiations, including how the parties will divide the ministerial portfolios.
A preliminary agreement last month indicated that Germany would advance its deadline to stop using coal power from 2038 to 2030, while expanding the deployment of renewable energy production.
At the insistence of the Free Democrats, the potential partners said they would not raise taxes or loosen the limits to run up on debt, making funding a key issue.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats are currently embroiled in a leadership contest over who should become their next leader and revive the party’s fortunes after it got the worst election result ever.