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: Class 2 HGV Driver - with CPC

£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence