German government candidates conclude first round of talks

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The parties hoping for a share of power in the next German government complete a first series of meetings to probe each other’s positions and determine who will try to form a coalition.

A delegation from the center-right Union bloc of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to meet with Green environmentalists on Tuesday

The Union’s only hope of retaining the top post after Armin Laschet led him to his worst result in the September 26 parliamentary elections is a coalition with the pro-business Greens and Free Democrats.

These two parties have already held separate meetings on Sunday with the center-left Social Democrats of outgoing Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz who narrowly won the elections. The Union has met the Free Democrats.

Negotiators have said little about the substance of the talks, all vowing to keep their conversations confidential after Merkel’s attempt four years ago to form a coalition with the Free Democrats and the Greens mired in details and leaks.

The Free Democrats finally ended the 2017 talks, paving the way for a resumption of the Union’s “grand coalition” and the Social Democrats – the main traditional German parties – who have ruled the country for 12 of the 16 years of Merkel in power.

A repeat of this often moody alliance, this time under Scholz, is mathematically possible this time too, but nobody wants it.

It remains to be seen how the coalition-building effort will play out after Tuesday’s meeting.

Either the Greens, who traditionally lean to the left, or the Free Democrats, who have tended to ally with the Union, are faced with the choice of deciding to negotiate with a party from another ideological camp. And questions have been raised as to whether the Union is currently willing or able to lead a new government.


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