Merkel Camp Eyes Tie-Up with Social Democrats, Shuns Greens
Berlin – Angela Merkel’s conservatives appeared headed towards coalition talks with their main center-left rivals on Tuesday after heavyweights from the German chancellor’s camp ruled out a marriage with the environmentalist Greens. Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), notched up their best result in more than two decades in a Sunday’s election, but finished five seats short of an absolute majority.
The Social Democrats (SPD) look most likely to team up with Merkel after her current coalition partner, the market-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), failed to clear the 5 percent threshold to enter parliament. The only other parties in the new Bundestag, or lower house, will be the Greens and the hardline Left.
“I won’t hold such talks (with the Greens). End of story,” said Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU, which won landslide victories in both Bavaria’s state election on September 15 and in Sunday’s national poll. “I can only say flirting with the Greens … would immediately strengthen the right wing,” he told the magazine Der Spiegel.
He was alluding to conservative fears that a leftward shift by the CDU-CSU could encourage more voters to switch to more right-wing parties such as the anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD), which narrowly failed to win seats on Sunday.
Merkel said on Monday she had already made contact with the SPD leadership, but did not rule out talks with other parties in the search for a stable government to steer Europe’s largest economy through the next four years. The more conservative wing of Merkel’s bloc dislike the pacifist Greens, who favor big tax increases for the wealthy. (Reuters)