Greens set for power in Schroder coalition

GERMANY BRACED itself yesterday for the biggest political realignment in its post-war history, as Gerhard Schroder's Social Democrats set about forming a government with the help of the Greens.

Negotiations leading to the first ever "Red-Green" coalition will begin on Friday, the two sides announced after their respective leaders emerged from their huddle. The process is likely to take several weeks.

Helmut Kohl remains Chancellor in the meantime, though with obvious reluctance, after leading his Christian Democrats to their worst result since 1949. The Christian Democrats won just 35 per cent of the vote on Sunday, 6 per cent less than four years ago.

Mr Schroder has about a month to strike a deal with the Greens before the new Bundestag convenes. Though he is dependent on the support of the Greens, he warned yesterday that he would drive a hard bargain. "The Greens are going to have to prepare for a clear and tough round of talks," he said.

Among the most difficult differences to resolve are nuclear power. The SPD is in favour of phasing out nuclear plants over a 10-year period, while the Greens want them shut down immediately. The two parties combined would have a majority of 21 in the new parliament.

As the winners celebrated Sunday's landslide victory, the outgoing government continued to be rocked by resignations. After Mr Kohl's announcement that he would step down as party chairman, it was the turn of his Finance Minister, Theo Waigel. Mr Waigel announced he would quit as chairman of the Christian Social Union.

Greens go into battle, page 12

Leading article, Review, page 3