Germany conservatives, SPD begin talks on new ‘grand coalition’

Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with the leaders of smaller German parties on Friday for the start of formal talks on forming a new governing coalition. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, their Bavaria sister party and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) all took a beating in last September’s national election. An attempt to form a coalition with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats failed last year. Social Democrats leader Martin Schulz faces strong opposition from his own party members to a renewal of the “grand coalition” that’s governed Germany since 2013. The three parties are aiming to complete talks within two weeks, AP said. The deal will still be put to SPD members for approval.