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Coalition ‘united’ to make Germany better: Scholz

Coalition ‘united’ to make Germany better: Scholz

dpa
Berlin
Germany is in for big changes under its incoming centre-left government, Olaf Scholz vowed on Wednesday as he presented the coalition deal designed to make him chancellor.
“We are united by the will to make this country better,” Scholz said of his Social Democrats (SPD) and their Green and Free Democrat (FDP) partners.
He vowed to bring about “politics with high impact” and went through a raft of pledges that will shift the country to the left if the three parties’ rank-and-file give their blessing to the deal during the next 10 days.
Scholz, who served as finance minister and deputy chancellor in Angela Merkel’s outgoing grand coalition, is set to replace her at the helm of Europe’s largest economy. Merkel will retire from politics after 16 years in power.
Among the policies set out in the SPD, Greens and FDP’s “marriage contract,” published on Wednesday, around eight weeks after the elections, are the legalization of armed drones in battlefield situations and cannabis sales domestically, both hotly debated issues in the country.
The coalition is also planning to increase the minimum wage in Germany to 12 euros (13.50 dollars) per hour from a current 9.60 euros - a key campaign promise of the SPD. Scholz said this will mean a pay rise for 10 million citizens.
In terms of climate action, the three parties want to bring forward the target date for phasing out Germany’s coal industry from 2038 to, “ideally,” 2030.
The goal is to power 80 per cent of the nation’s grid with renewable energies by that date, going beyond the current target of 65 per cent by 2030.
The Greens, co-led by Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, had to drop their campaign promise of a speed limit on German motorways during the negotiations, a step their party sees as necessary to reducing the country’s emissions. But many Germans have a strong sentimental attachment to the ability to drive fast on their highways.
The legal age for voting is also set to be reduced from 18 to 16, according to the parties’ plan.
While they can achieve this with a simple majority for the European Parliament elections, the so-called “traffic light” coalition, named for the colour of the three parties, will need support from opposition parties to get the two-thirds majority required to lower the age for German federal elections.
On the subject of migration, the parties have agreed to drop an upper limit on how many people can be brought to Germany under a scheme to reunite refugees with family members.
They have also promised that legal access routes to Germany will be created, for example by seting up a humanitarian programme to assist people in Afghanistan.
Ahead of the release of the coalition agreement, sources involved in the talks told dpa that the SPD is to get six ministerial posts in the new government, the Greens five and the FDP four.
The Greens are expected to control a new ministry combining the economy and climate, as well as the ministries for foreign affairs, the environment, agriculture and families.
The pro-business FDP, led by Christian Lindner, is expected to clinch the coveted finance portfolio, as well as the ministries for transport, education and justice.
According to the sources, the centre-left SPD will take on the ministries for the interior, defence, health, labour and economic cooperation, as well as a newly created ministry for construction.
The final coalition agreement will now be put to the parties, either at party conferences of the SPD and FDP, or in a membership vote for the Greens.
If they OK the deal, the Scholz-led coalition will be the first of its kind at federal level. In recent decades, coalitions have tended to only have two partners in Germany.
He is expected to be elected as chancellor by the Bundestag parliament some time around December 8.

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