German Greens, FDP Push Forward in Post-Vote Coalition Jockeying
(Bloomberg) -- Top officials from Germany’s Greens and Free Democrats signaled that they’re making progress in exploratory talks on joining the next government as junior coalition partners and set up a round follow-up meetings.
The two parties, which have contrasting policies in key areas like climate and finance, are sounding each other out, and a second round of talks, including more officials, will be held on Friday. The FDP will also talk to the second-placed conservatives, while the Greens have yet to agree on a meeting amid uncertainty over the leadership of the Christian Democrat-led bloc.
The SPD narrowly defeated Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in Sunday’s election, leaving their candidate Olaf Scholz -- the current finance minister and vice chancellor -- in pole position to lead the next government. All the parties are keen to avoid a prolonged process like in 2017, when it took Merkel nearly six months to secure an alliance after initial talks with the Greens and the FDP failed.
Greens’ co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, FDP Chairman Christian Lindner and FDP General Secretary Volker Wissing all posted the same selfie on social media late Tuesday suggesting they had held a successful meeting.
“Searching for a new government,” the text accompanying the photos said. “We are seeking similarities and bridges across divisions. And are even finding some,” they added. “Exciting times.”
The Greens are holding a small party convention on Saturday after a renewed meeting with the FDP on Friday, Baerbock said at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, confirming earlier comments from Wissing. Both declined to comment on details of the discussions.
The FDP plans to meet with the conservatives on Saturday and the SPD on Sunday. The pro-business party, which placed fourth in Sunday’s vote, will convene on Monday to discuss its next steps, Wissing said.
The Greens will meet with the SPD on Sunday following the FDP’s meeting. The conservatives have also invited the Green party to talks next week, but a meeting hasn’t yet been confirmed, Baerbock said.
Germany’s coalition process has yet to advance to exploratory discussions. Once those are completed, the parties enter negotiations. The whole process could stretch on for months.
Scholz will have a first shot at building a three-way alliance with the Greens and FDP. But if he fails, Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc and their chancellor candidate Armin Laschet could still have a chance of leading the next administration in a tie-up with the two smaller parties.
Laschet is coming under increasing pressure within the conservative alliance after they crashed to their worst result in postwar Germany in Sunday’s vote, plunging below 30% for the first time.
Rolf Muetzenich, who was re-elected leader of the SPD caucus on Wednesday, said the Greens and the FDP should be “smart enough” to accept the offer to start preliminary coalition talks as soon as possible.
He welcomed that the two parties had begun what he interpreted as an effort to “dispel mistrust” lingering from the acrimonious breakdown of coalition talks in 2017.
“We are available,” Muetzenich told reporters in Berlin. “Germany doesn’t need photos,” he added in a reference to Tuesday’s selfie, but “a government that can energetically address the challenges.”
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