Germany Elections: Social Democratic Party to open coalition talks with Angela Merkel

Merkel's Christan Democratic Union needs a new junior partner after its last partner dropped out of parliament entirely

Germany's main centre-left party will negotiate with Angela Merkel over a possible "grand coalition" spanning left and right.

The Chancellor needs to attract a new junior partner after falling short of a parliamentary majority in last week's elections and seeing her party's parter drop out of parliament entirely.

Her centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, jointly toasted its best result since reunification in the poll, with 41.5 per cent of votes. This left the party on 311 Bundestag seats - tantalisingly close to the 316 required for a majority.

And yesterday the chairman of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) - which took 192 seats - announced preliminary coalition talks with Ms Merkel.

At the end of a four-hour meeting, Sigmar Gabriel said: "The SPD decided that we'll be available for exploratory talks with Frau Merkel.

"But the party did not open the door for full-scale talks. If Frau Merkel invites us to exploratory talks we'll take the findings from that meeting back to the party leaders before deciding if we're open for full negotiations."

He said that any formal decision on coalition would be put to the party's 472,000-strong membership, ahead of its mid-November conference.

Such a coalition - like the one which Merkel helmed from 2005 to 2009 - would be popular with voters. A Politbarometer opinion poll on ZDF television reported that 58 per cent would support it.

As well as giving Merkel a huge majority of 503 seats, it could ease the passage of legislation, given the centre-left control of the country's upper chamber, the Bundesrat.

But Mr Gabriel is aware of the pitfalls such a move could present. His party scored its lowest post-war vote share after after the 2005-09 partnership, and hasn't fully recovered electorally. And the pro-business Free Democrats, Merkel's most recent partners, suffered a staggering fall from a 14.6 per cent vote share in 2009 to 4.8 per cent last week.

Mr Gabriel said: "The SPD is not queuing to be next after Mrs Merkel ruined her previous coalition partner."

There are other party combinations which would leave a majority. The Green Party, which now holds 63 seats, could also be an option for Merkel, but this would be less popular with the CDU membership.

Between them, the SPD, the Greens and the radical Left Party could command a slender majority of 319. But such an option hasn't got much consideration, because the Left - successors to the East German Communist Party - are seen as unreliable on policy.

In the absence of a coherent coalition, President Joachim Gauck could dissolve the Bundestag and call fresh elections.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss