Germany's 'Grand Coalition' Government: Prospects and Implications [January 17, 2006] [open pdf - 83KB]
"A 'grand coalition' government of Germany's two largest parties, the Christian Democrat Union/Christian Socialist Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by CDU candidate Angela Merkel took office on November 22, 2005, after the German federal election of September 18, 2005, had produced no clear winner. Some experts believe that the coalition will be fragile, short lived, and will accomplish little with each side trying to gain political advantage over the other. Such negative expectations are not shared by other analysts who believe that only such a large coalition can implement potentially painful but needed economic and social reforms, assuming that it can overcome partisan politics. The most difficult and crucial areas on which the coalition must cooperate if the government is to succeed involve social and economic policy. […] The United States, Germany, and the EU are working together to oppose Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Chancellor Merkel has indicated that she will not support a lifting of the EU arms embargo against China, which the United States also opposes. A number of differences are likely to continue even under the Merkel government, such as on the treatment of terror suspect prisoners, extra-judicial 'renditions,' environmental policy, and the International Criminal Court. Chancellor Merkel's first official visit to Washington and her talks with President Bush on January 13, 2006, were designed to demonstrate that a new positive chapter had opened in bilateral relations, although differences were discussed candidly. The two leaders agreed on most points, including the urgency of addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions. This report will be updated."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33252