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.
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 3 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...