Germany's 2 biggest party to start coalition talks

Germany's 2 biggest parties to start formal coalition talks over new government next week

Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's Social Democrats have approved formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in order to form a new government.

The negotiations between the country's two biggest parties will begin on Wednesday.

Merkel's conservatives won a Sept. 22 parliamentary election, but their last coalition partner, the Free Democrats, lost all seats. Short of an absolute majority, Merkel's party reached out to its traditional center-left rivals for a new partner.

The German news agency dpa said the Social Democrats approved coalition talks at a party convention in Berlin on Sunday, but said its conditions include a demand for the country's first mandatory minimum wage — something many conservatives oppose.

Merkel led a coalition with the Social Democrats in her first term, from 2005 to 2009.

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