German govt at odds over pensions as deeper troubles lurk

International

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, left, arrive for the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s governing coalition has delayed a decision on a pension reform that has become a central ideological battleground, adding to questions over how long the government will last.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc leads a bad-tempered coalition with the center-left Social Democrats.

The two sides are struggling to find a compromise on a project to top up the pensions of low-paid people who have worked for at least 35 years. The Social Democrats say such payments should be made without means-testing, which the Union insists on.

A meeting scheduled for Monday to seal a compromise was delayed until Sunday. Social Democrat secretary-general Lars Klingbeil told ZDF television the coalition must agree on the project imminently and indicated that keeping the coalition going will otherwise be “a great deal more difficult.”

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