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Europe German TUC head urges Social Democrats to extend coalition with the right

TOP German trade union official Reiner Hoffmann urged the Social Democrats (SDP) yesterday to re-enter a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Mr Hoffman, the head of the German Trade Union Confederation, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that it would be “a big mistake if the SDP refused to accept responsibility in this situation.”

“The SDP now has the opportunity to enforce worker-friendly policies,” Mr Hoffman claimed.

He said that of particular importance was restoring the right to temporary part-time working, though the CDU stopped an SDP attempt at this earlier this year.

“We need an effective, stable government that ensures that German society does not lose its cohesion and that the European Union does not suffer irreparable damage,” Mr Hoffman added, urging the SDP to seize on French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to reform the bloc.

Mr Macron has proposed deeper military integration, including setting up an EU “intervention force,” and extending the control of the Brussels apparatus over national governments.

SDP leader Martin Schulz had ruled out another “grand coalition” with the CDU, but he changed his mind after Ms Merkel’s failed attempt to agree a coalition with the right-wing Free Democrats and the Greens. Talks will begin on January 7.

That is despite cosying up to Ms Merkel’s rightwingers being blamed for the worst election result for the SDP since the second world war.

Mr Hoffman insisted that “the grand coalition has done a decent job over the last four years. Much went in the right direction, such as the minimum wage and pensions at 63.”

He urged the next government to invest billions of euros in infrastructure, including health, education and housing.

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