It would be a disaster if Germany failed to form a new government by Easter, the head of one of the parties involved in coalition talks told dpa on Wednesday, more than four months after September's inconclusive elections.
"That would lead to justifiable anger among the population," said Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU). "We will do everything to avoid this happening. That would be a catastrophe for Germany."
The Bavaria-based CSU is part of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and has shared power with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since she was first elected in 2005.
Seehofer gave an upbeat assessment of the coalition talks between the CDU-CSU and the Social Democratic Paty (SPD).
"We now have reached the first agreements on refugee family reunions, on pensions, on care for the elderly. I think that in terms of atmosphere we are also on the right path," he said.
"I have the impression that the willingness is there in the party leadership to champion these shared solutions together."
Negotiating teams have been engaged in talks since Friday to agree on the policy positions of their potential coalition government. They face a self-imposed but flexible deadline of Feb. 4.
"I hope, and we have agreed to this, that on Sunday, or at the latest by Tuesday, we will be finished. I still believe this is possible," Seehofer said.
Any agreement between the negotiators would need to be approved by party members of the SPD, led by former EU parliamentarian Martin Schulz.
The CSU and the SPD have clashed over numerous issues, in particular over Germany's refugee policy. Seehofer attacked the deputy head of the SPD, Ralf Stegner, for being an "obstacle to consensus," after comments he made suggesting that the CSU was un-Christian to be taking a hard line on limiting family reunions for refugees. If successful, the talks would create the third so-called grand coalition of major parties led by Merkel since she came to power more than 12 years ago.
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