New elections in Germany likely after ‘exploratory talks’ fail

Written by on November 20, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on New elections in Germany likely after ‘exploratory talks’ fail

In Berlin, the ‘exploratory negotiations’ between Angela Merkel’s conservative party CDU, its ultra conservative sister party CSU, the Liberals and the centre-left Green Party shipwrecked last night. This means there will not be a so-called ‘Jamaica Coalition’ in Germany.

The collapse of these talks has far-reaching implications. At this stage it is completely unclear who will form the next German government, whether Chancellor Angela Merkel will be able to head any government for another term, as she intended, or if there will be new elections.

In the late evening, the chairman of the centre-right Liberals, Christian Lindner, came out of the negotiations with representatives of the other parties. He stepped in front of the cameras and said it was “better not to govern than to govern the wrong way.”

Lindner stated, the parties involved in the negotiations had not managed to come up with an idea for the modernisation of the country or create a foundation of trust. According to him, the latter would have been a requirement for a stable government.

The ‘Jamaica Talks’, which got this name because the colours the participating parties are being associated with are the colours of the flag of Jamaica, had started four weeks ago. In all this time, “a document with countless contradictions, open questions and conflicts” was generated, according to Lindner.

Migration was the most difficult subject during the talks. While the conservative and liberal participants wanted to limit the number of asylum seekers allowed to enter Germany, the Greens rejected that idea firmly.

Late in the evening, the Greens shot back at the Liberals. They had “not really negotiated anymore in the past few days”, party chairman Cem Özdemir told the press. Their commitment to a “Jamaica partnership” had not been that firm.

President Steinmeier might have to dissolve the newly elected Bundestag.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said, she regretted the failure of the talks. This was “a day of intensive contemplations.” Merkel announced, she would contact President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday. He might have to take big steps in the coming weeks.

The following are Germany’s options:

> New elections

This would be unprecedented in the Federal Republic of Germany. The constitution contains a number of steps the President would have to take in case new elections turn out to be the only way. They include dissolving the Bundestag.

> Minority government

Mrs. Merkel could try to form a minority government, e.g. with the Liberals. But this possibility seems unlikely since the Liberals would probably reject the idea. Right after the recent elections,  even Merkel herself had said that model was not appropriate for a country like Germany.

> Grand coalition

This scenario is unlikely as well, since the Social Democrats have firmly ruled out their participation in another government of this kind, after all of their initiatives had been credited to Merkel, in both grand coalitions they had with her.

The next days might show which of these paths Germany will take.

Photo on top of page: Christian Lindner, chairman of the German Liberals.

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com