Thursday

22nd Nov 2018

German coalition talks collapse

  • FDP leader Lindner (c) pulls out of coalition talks with the conservatives and the greens (Photo: FDP/Matthias Hornung)

The liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) pulled out of coalition talks in Germany on Sunday (19 November), leading to an uncertain political future for the EU's largest member state.

The move is a blow to Angela Merkel, leader of the centre-right CDU and chancellor of Germany since 2005, who was expected to lead the coalition government for a fourth time.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But talks between CDU, its Bavarian sister party CSU, the Greens, and FDP, progressed slowly and missed a self-imposed deadline last Thursday.

FDP's leader Christian Lindner said on Sunday that after weeks of talks, there were still many open issues and conflicting goals, but "no common basis for trust".

"It is better not to rule than to rule wrongly," said Lindner around midnight on Sunday.

Merkel, however, said that the four parties had been "on a path where we could have reached an agreement".

Following the 24 September parliamentary elections, the combination of these four parties quickly emerged as the only feasible option for a majority coalition.

The centre-left SPD suffered such a historic defeat that its leader, former president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, decided not to enter government.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party entered parliament for the first time, with 94 of 598 seats, but has such extreme views from the political mainstream that it is almost unthinkable that it would join coalition talks.

Mathematically, the FDP could be substituted by the former-communist Left party in coalition talks, but it is unlikely that the base of the conservative CDU/CSU would accept such a way forward.

The four-party combination which now failed, also called the Jamaica coalition because of the combination of their party colours, was never one born out of strong political alignment.

In particular the FDP and the Greens, which won 80 and 67 seats respectively, were far apart in their views on immigration, climate action, and Europe.

Days after the election, FDP leader Lindner already said the four parties "each have their own election mandates. Whether these can be allied without contradiction ... remains to be seen".

Yet it is unclear what precisely triggered the FDP to blow up the talks.

In his speech, Lindner only spoke in general terms, saying for example that the four parties "could not develop a common vision of the modernisation of our country".

But according to German media, the other parties saw it differently.

Just hours before Lindner's statement, Green politician Michael Kellner reportedly was still optimistic about where the talks were heading.

One CDU MP told Rheinische Post Online that the negotiators of the other parties were "completely surprised" over the FDP walkout.

Cem Oezdemir, one of the Green party leaders, said that the FDP rejected "the only possible constellation that was democratically possible after the elections."

The FDP "simply is afraid" to govern, German Greens MEP Reinhard Buetikofer later added.

Meanwhile, Germany continues to be ruled by Merkel's former coalition – CDU/CSU with the SPD – as a caretaker government.

Germany's options include a period of reflection with the hope of bringing FDP back into the fold; a minority government; or new elections.

German coalition talks in near collapse

Migration, climate and energy and finance policies are blocking the formation of a 'Jamaica' government between Christian-Democrats, liberals and Greens in Berlin.

Analysis

Merkel's win heralds uncertain time

On Sunday, Germans elected Angela Merkel for her fourth term in office. However, she may be facing her most difficult period yet as chancellor.

Merkel survives election 'earthquake'

Christian-democrat leader set to rule Germany together with liberals and greens, but with a new troublemaker - the AfD party - on the scene.

Interview

David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees

David Miliband heads the US-based International Rescue Committee, an international aid organisation. In an interview with EUobserver, he says the EU should take over 500,000 refugees.

News in Brief

  1. UK shell firms at heart of Danske Bank scandal: whistleblower
  2. Google pledges transparency on EU political ads
  3. EU urges Hungary to respect law on Macedonia PM 'asylum'
  4. Bannon's EU campaign illegal in nine countries: report
  5. EU court overturns Austria's anti-migrant law
  6. Kosovo punishes Serbia with trade tariffs in Interpol row
  7. Italy happy to 'confront' EU on budget
  8. Spain threatens Brexit deal over Gibraltar

Opinion

'The kids aren't alt-right'

Steve Bannon's demolition derby is behind the curve of EU politics, writes Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in 't Veld.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  9. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  10. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  11. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue

Latest News

  1. Revealed: 98% of EU 'expert groups' take place in private
  2. EU commission warns Italy on budget, moves towards fines
  3. Challenges for new Franco-German eurozone plan
  4. EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection
  5. Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal
  6. New EU human rights sanctions to focus on Africa
  7. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  8. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us