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Germany's Merkel battles for political survival in 'last-ditch' talks with SPD

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Germany's Merkel battles for political survival in 'last-ditch' talks with SPD

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Preliminary talks have resumed in Germany in what some are labelling a last-ditch effort to form a stable coalition government.

Angela Merkel, the chancellor for the past 12 years, has so far failed to convince other parties to form an alliance and has struggled to maintain her grip on power. However, she says she's optimistic.

"I'm going into these talks with optimism, indeed it's clear that in these few days we have a huge amount of work ahead of us, but we're willing to take on this work and achieve a good outcome," she said.

Her CDU and its sister party - the CSU – are currently courting the SPD at its Berlin headquarters.

It has proven a reluctant ally. After years of being the minority partner, the centre-left Social Democrats suffered their worst result since World War II in September’s ballot, gaining just 20 percent of the vote. On election night, its leader, Martin Schulz, vowed to take the party into the opposition.

But it could now be changing its tune. At the start of this round of talks, General Secretary Lars Klingbeil said “new times need a new style of politics” and said a “serious, constructive and open” discussion had taken place.

If talks go well, the SPD will ask its members to vote on moving forward with coalition negotiations. That ballot would take place at a party conference in Bonn at the end of January and coalition talks could start shortly afterwards.

If no deal is struck, a new election could be on the horizon. While a less stable minority government with the Greens or the Liberals could be on the cards, talks with the two parties had previously failed to result in a coalition government. Merkel herself has also indicated indicated that she would prefer a fresh election.

Another spanner in the works has proven to be the rise of the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany). It became Germany’s third-largest political party in September’s election, and entered the Bundestag for the first time. Other parties have been keen to dissociate themselves from the first far-right party to enter the German parliament since the Second World War.

CDU-CSU talks with the SPD will run until Thursday (January 11).