German Chancellor Angela Merkel has started a new round of exploratory coalition talks to try and end the country’s political stalemate.
The five-day talks will include Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).
Merkel said on Sunday (January 7) she was optimistic that her party and the SPD could agree to join forces and revive the “grand coalition” that has governed Germany since 2013.
The German Chancellor has to bet heavily on forming a coalition with the SPD to extend her 12 years in office after attempts to form an alliance with two smaller parties failed last year.
SPD leader Martin Schulz said that while the outcome of the talks was uncertain, his party would enter them constructively.
“We won’t draw any red lines – rather we want to push through as much red politics as possible in Germany,” said Schulz, referring to the party’s colour.
Areas of uncertainty
The two parties have different viewpoints on immigration, Europe, tax, and healthcare.
As SPD’s poll ratings fell to a post-war low in September’s election, some party members are concerned that forming a coalition with Merkel would cost them more supporters.
What do people think?
A survey by public broadcaster ARD found that Germans prefer fresh elections to a renewal of last term’s coalition.
A majority of respondents also believe that Merkel’s party is too powerful.
However, 53 percent of those polled still believed Merkel is a good chancellor.
If the two parties find enough common ground and the SPD gets backing from its members in a vote, the two sides will proceed to full-blown coalition talks, which could last until March.
However, if the discussions fail, Germany could be launched into new elections or for the first time in the post-war era be ruled by a minority government led by Merkel.