German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has urged political parties in Germany to break the deadlock and resume talks. The President’s move came after talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and the conservative bloc broke down, pushing the country a step closer to snap polls.
Even as the political crisis deepened after Merkel’s talks to form a new government collapsed on Monday, the Chancellor has said that she is not frightened by the prospect of new elections. She also said that she would not step down as party leader and chancellor candidate.
“As chancellor… I will do everything to ensure that this country comes out well through this difficult time,” she said.
Reports also quoted her as saying she would prefer fresh elections, rather than leading a minority government.
The failure of coalition talks involving her conservative bloc, the liberal pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and environmentalist Greens raises the prospect of a new election and casts doubt about her future after 12 years in power.
But following more than a month of gruelling negotiations, the leader of the pro-business FDP, Christian Lindner, walked out of talks overnight, saying there was no “basis of trust” to forge a government with Merkel’s conservative alliance CDU-CSU and ecologist Greens.
“It is better not to govern than to govern badly,” he said, adding that the parties did not share “a common vision on modernising” Germany.
But the Chancellor believes that the new election would have different parameters with the two union parties CDU and CSU much closer than on September 24. But experts say that the results would see the greens with the maximum gains.
The failure of coalition talks is unprecedented in Germany’s post-war history, with the unravelling of the German talks coming as a surprise since the main sticking points – immigration and climate policy – were not seen as FDP signature issues.
Merkel’s liberal refugee policy that let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015 had also pushed some voters to the far-right AfD, which captured 12.6 percent of the vote after an Islamophobic and anti-immigration campaign.
The parties also differed on environmental issues, with the ecologists wanting to phase out dirty coal and combustion-engine cars, while the conservatives and FDP emphasised the need to protect industry and jobs.
With the coalition talks failing, Germany moved a step closer to snap polls and now the country faces weeks, if not months of paralysis with a lame-duck government that is unlikely to take bold policy action.
Merkel, whose liberal refugee policy has proved deeply divisive, had been forced to seek an alliance with an unlikely group of parties after the ballot left her without a majority.
(With inputs from agencies)