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Small parties vie coalition prize as German election race tightens

Angela Merkel's conservatives are tipped to win but without enough support to govern alone.

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Small parties vie coalition prize as German election race tightens

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Germany’s Free Democrats have ruled out joining a post-election coalition with Chancellor Merkel if she supports French plans to deepen fiscal integration in the eurozone.

The socially liberal FDP have long been seen as her natural allies and have been junior partners before, in Merkel’s second government from 2009 to 2013. They lost their parliamentary representation that year but are hoping to re-enter as the third-largest party in next Sunday’s vote.

“The toughest question is setting the agenda for the future of Europe,” FDP leader Christian Lindner told the Welt Am Sonntag newspaper, adding that he feared Merkel had already agreed to new funding mechanisms for the EU with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Everything that goes in the direction of financial transfer on the European level, be it a eurozone budget or a banking union, is a red line for us,” he said.

However, his rallying call at a weekend party meeting of supporters was upbeat:
“If we see a possibility to change things in our country, we will be part of it. Otherwise our place is the opposition.”

The Greens were the other group to hold a convention over the weekend. There has been talk of a so-called “Jamaica” coalition with the conservatives and Free Democrats – a reference to the parties’ colours which together match that country’s flag.

“Anybody who wants to stop the climate warming, who wants bring climate warming to a stop, must vote green,” Katrin Göring-Eckardt, one of the Greens’ two lead candidates told the gathering.

Next weekend’s election is likely to fracture the political landscape, installing up to six parties in parliament, including the far-left “Die Linke” and anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Merkel is widely expected to win a fourth term but with her conservatives the largest party in parliament ahead of the Social Democrats. But it’s thought they will not be strong enough to govern alone and will have to pick at least one of four small parties as a coalition partner.

Latest polls see the Liberal democrats head to head with “Die Linke” and AfD, with the Green Party lagging behind. But one survey suggested nearly 40 percent of voters were still unsure how they would cast their ballot.

“These polls should be taken with a grain of salt now. There surely could be some surprises on election night,” said Gero Neugebauer, political scientist at Berlin’s Free University.

“In the fight among the smaller parties for third place and possible power in a coalition, everything is still up in the air,” he said.

with Reuters