Monday

25th Mar 2019

Prospect grows of new German elections

  • Steinmeier with Merkel in Berlin on Monday (Photo: bunde.gov)

The German president has urged coalition talks to restart, but chancellor Angela Merkel said new elections might be "better".

Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the call after meeting Merkel on Monday (20 November) to discuss the collapse of the so-called 'Jamaica' negotiations the night before.

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

"All political parties elected to the German parliament have an obligation to the common interest to serve our country", he said.

"I expect from all a readiness to talk to make agreeing a government possible in the near future," he added.

The liberal FDP party walked away from the negotiations over differences, including on immigration, with the Greens, in what had been intended to be a 'Jamaica' government of the FDP (yellow), the CDU/CSU (black), and the Green parties.

The situation could lead to a Merkel minority government, new elections, or another grand coalition between the chancellor's CDU and the centre-left SPD party.

"Those who seek political responsibility in elections must not be allowed to shy away from it when they hold it in their hands," Steinmeier also said on Monday, seemingly in a call for the SPD not to rule out the latter option.

Merkel said on German TV that she preferred new elections over another SPD marriage, however.

She also said she was "sceptical" that a minority government would work because it would be too "tense" to have to seek a majority every time the government took a decision.

"I'm certain that new elections are the better way," she said.

"I'm ready to serve Germany four more years," she added.

She had said earlier in the day that an FDP coalition deal had been close. She voiced "respect" for the liberals and said they had been "on a path where we could have reached an agreement".

Markets initially reacted to the fiasco with a fall in the value of the euro and a dip in stock prices on Monday.

But they recovered later in the day, while markets for German bonds stayed quiet, reflecting underlying confidence in the German state.

The office of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who is waiting to launch a reform of the EU with Merkel, said: "We're hoping, for Germany and for Europe, that our principal partner will be stable and strong to advance together".

Macron himself said: "It's not in our interest that things get tense".

Speaking at an EU meeting in Brussels, the Dutch foreign minister, Halbe Zijlstra, said; "It's bad news for Europe that the government in Germany will take a little longer … Germany is a very influential country within the EU so if they don't have a government and therefore don't have a mandate it'll be very hard for them to take positions."

But Didier Reynders, the Belgian foreign minister, made light of the matter.

"In Belgium we have a tradition to do that [hold long coalition talks], sometimes it's very long," he said.

The European Commission also sent out a message of reassurance.

A spokesman cited chapter and verse of the German constitution on the process that governed coalition stalemates.

"We have full confidence that stability and continuity will be maintained," the Commission spokesman said, adding that these were "the trademark of German politics".

In Germany, the far-right populist AfD party and the far-left Die Linke party said the situation called for snap elections.

The AfD entered the German parliament for the first time in elections in September.

"Ms Merkel has failed, and it's time for her to go as chancellor", AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland told press on Monday.

Die Linke said a snap election would be the "logical democratic extension" of the FDP's walk-out.

German coalition talks collapse

The liberal Free Democratic Party pulled out of coalition talks late Sunday night, saying it is 'better not to rule than to rule wrongly'. It is unclear what happens next.

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.

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP

Reinhard Buetikofer, who participated in the failed coalition talks, puts the blame squarely on FDP being 'afraid to govern', but hopes "there will be a lot of phone calls" to German politicians on the consequences of the deadlock in Berlin.

News in Brief

  1. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  2. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  3. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  4. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  5. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  6. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  7. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  8. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us