Germany’s president is to meet party leaders after talks to form a new government between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc, the left-leaning Greens and pro-business Free Democrats broke down at the weekend.
The collapse of coalition talks poses the most serious threat to Merkel’s position since she became chancellor more than a decade ago.
The president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has called on political leaders to rethink their positions and try again to form a government. He will meet the leaders of the Greens and Free Democrats later on Tuesday.
The centre-left Social Democrats — Merkel’s partners in the outgoing government — say they will not budge from their refusal to enter a new Merkel administration. If that stands, a minority government or new elections are the only options.
Peter Altmaier, the acting finance minister and a close confidant of Merkel, called on the parties to not run away from their responsibility, but “make forming a government the primary objective”.
Merkel, who has headed three coalitions since 2005, said she was “very sceptical” about ruling in a minority government and suggested she would stand again as a candidate if elections were called in the new year, telling public broadcaster ARD she was “a woman who has responsibility and is prepared to take responsibility in the future”.
Exploratory talks to form the next German government collapsed on Sunday night after the pro-business Free Democratic party (FDP) walked out of marathon negotiations with Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the Green party.
Germany’s president had earlier urged parties to resume efforts to a build a governing coalition following a meeting with Merkel.
“I expect the parties to make the formation of a new government possible in the foreseeable future,” Steinmeier said, adding that the parties had a responsibility that “cannot be simply given back to the voters”.
During elections in September, Merkel’s bloc polled first place but with a reduced share of the vote and with the FDP and Greens as their only plausible coalition partners.
Source: The Guardian