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German Parties Announce Grand Coalition Deal


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. February 7, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA German Parties Announce Grand Coalition Deal Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union has reached a coalition deal with the center-left Social Democrats, putting the leader on track to end nearly five months of political gridlock since September elections. The deal must still be approved in a vote (NYT) by members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), nearly half a million in total, early next month. The grand coalition under Merkel would see Social Democrats gain control of half a dozen ministries (Bloomberg), including foreign affairs and finance. The deal would also pit the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) against the coalition as the main opposition party in parliament (Guardian). ANALYSIS "Any coalition deal will hinge on how well Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz, the challenger Merkel defeated in September, can sell the pact to a party base that's chafing at the idea of helping the Christian Democrats govern for the third time since 2005," Arne Delfs, Patrick Donahue, Birgit Jennen, and Rainer Buergin write for Bloomberg. "It is telling that, as the negotiations reached their conclusion this week, the outstanding areas of disagreement concerned domestic policy issues, notably health care and the labor market, not Europe," Tony Barber writes for the Financial Times. "Should [Merkel's partners] agree to form a 'grand coalition,' the AfD, as the third-largest party in the Bundestag, would officially take on the role of chief opposition. Per tradition, this means it will have the first chance to respond to the government's position during parliamentary debates, giving it extra airtime and visibility," Emily Schultheis writes for the Atlantic. Event: Google's Hal R. Varian Speaks at CFR Google Chief Economist Hal R. Varian discusses global challenges for U.S. technology companies during the Robert B. Menschel Symposium at CFR. Watch today at 1:00 p.m. EST.   PACIFIC RIM Sister of North Korea's Kim to Attend Olympics The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong, will be among those attending the Winter Olympics in South Korea as part of a delegation from the North. She will be the first member of the ruling family to visit the South (Korea Times) since the end of the Korean War. Jonathan Grix discusses the mixed record on sports diplomacy in this CFR interview. TAIWAN: A 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit the coastal city of Hualien (AFP) late Tuesday, killing at least five and injuring more than 250 others. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Maldivian Court Reverses Ruling to Free Opposition Figures Three judges in the Maldives' top court have reversed a ruling to free nine opposition politicians after security forces arrested two other justices from the court (Al Jazeera). President Abdulla Yameen accused the two of plotting his overthrow. PAKISTAN: An anti-terrorism court sentenced one person to death and thirty others to lengthy prison sentences on Wednesday for the killing of a university student last year (Dawn). The student was attacked by a mob after he was accused of blasphemy. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Syrian Government Assault on Opposition Enclave Intensifies The United Nations has called for an immediate cease-fire in Syria after government bombings and artillery strikes on the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta reportedly killed at least eighty people on Tuesday (BBC). The international body referred to the situation as "extreme" (NYT). IRAN: President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the government must be "completely open" to citizens' grievances (VOA) over economic, social, and foreign policy issues in an apparent response to widespread street demonstrations in December and January. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA South Africa's ANC at Standoff With Zuma Embattled South African President Jacob Zuma held talks with his deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, as reports emerged on Wednesday that Zuma agreed to resign (Mail and Guardian). Ramaphosa, the likely candidate to replace Zuma (FT), was elected late last year as leader of the ruling African National Congress. SOMALIA: The breakaway state of Somaliland has issued a decree banning female genital mutilation (VOA) and ordering financial compensation to victims. This CFR Backgrounder looks at Somaliland's relative peace and stability. EUROPE EU to Hold Talks on Including Balkan States The EU foreign policy chief said on Tuesday that the bloc plans to hold "ambitious" talks on offering EU membership (Politico) to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. She called the move a "turning point" in the bloc's history. In Foreign Affairs, Florian Bieber writes that Europe's plan for the Balkans is promising but not tough enough. AMERICAS Venezuela to Pitch Cryptocurrency to OPEC Venezuelan state media reported on Tuesday that President Nicolas Maduro will propose a joint cryptocurrency mechanism backed by oil (Al Jazeera) to members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The move comes soon after Venezuela launched its own cryptocurrency, the petro. COLOMBIA: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on a visit to Bogota, praised Colombia's fight against illegal drugs (VOA) but said "results are what matter." President Juan Manuel Santos said demand continues to drive drug trafficking in his country. UNITED STATES Trump Asks for Military Parade in Washington The White House said that U.S. President Donald J. Trump has asked the Pentagon to look into planning a U.S. military parade in Washington (VOA). A spokesman for the Pentagon said it is considering options. The U.S. trade deficit grew 12 percent last year (FT) to reach $566 billion, its highest level since 2008.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: February 07, 2018 at 10:55PM