Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) yesterday moved a step closer to heading the next government in Berlin, signing up the Greens and business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) for coalition talks following an inconclusive national election.
he SPD’s candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said the talks would begin today, following what he called very constructive preliminary discussions.
He added that the electorate had given the three parties a mandate to form a government that they now needed to fulfil.
The September 26 federal ballot – in which no party won an overall majority and the SPD narrowly relegated outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) into second place – has kicked off a round of horse-trading.
Both the SPD and the CDU have courted the two smaller parties – which finished third and fourth – to try to secure power in a potentially drawn-out coalition-building process.
At stake is Germany’s political future after 16 years with Angela Merkel at the helm, its appetite to shape Europe’s largest economy for the digital era and the extent of its willingness to follow her lead on engaging on global issues.
FDP leader Christian Lindner said his party, which has a greater policy overlap with the CDU, shared with the Greens “a mutual conviction that there must be renewal in this country”.
The FDP had agreed to talks with the SPD to try to move Germany forwards, he added.
Armin Laschet – the conservative bloc’s leader and its candidate for chancellor, who is fighting for his political life – said his party respected that decision, but also stood “ready as partners for talks”.
The potential SDP/Green/FDP alliance has been christened a ‘traffic-light coalition’ on account of the parties’ colours.