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.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam