German Coalition Talks Could Go to End of Year, Laschet Says
(Bloomberg) -- It could be the end of the year before the winner of this month’s German election is able to assemble a new government, said Armin Laschet, the Christian Democrat seeking to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel.
With the German political landscape splintered, polls show it may take a three-party coalition to put together the majority required to govern. That will make for a drawn-out process.
Laschet, who’s trailing Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, just over two weeks ahead of the Sept. 26 contest, made the remarks to a European People’s Party meeting in Berlin on Thursday.
Even in a less fragmented environment, German parties have taken weeks or months to hold coalition talks in the past. After election day, they hold rounds of preliminary negotiations before proceeding to formal talks, complete with separate teams to hammer out policy language for the next government’s agenda.
German SPD Remains Strongest Party in Kantar Poll for Focus
On top of that, parties have to endorse decisions to proceed, either through leadership votes or via a broader forum. The Social Democrats have typically put major decisions to a membership ballot, a process that alone takes weeks.
Four years ago, negotiations between Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc, the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party collapsed just short of two months after the election, when the FDP pulled out. That triggered an extended process before the Social Democrats agreed to open new coalition talks, thereby avoiding the risk of a new election.
As a result, Merkel wasn’t sworn into her fourth term until March 2018, six months after election day.
In 2009, when Merkel’s bloc won a majority with the FDP, traditionally its favored partner, things went more smoothly. The new government was sworn in on Oct. 28, just over a month after the election.
A delay this year may not be bad news for Merkel. If she holds on until year-end, she’ll surpass Helmut Kohl as Germany’s longest-serving postwar chancellor.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.