In the German northern port city-state of Hamburg, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has decided to try form the country's first ever so-called "black-green" coalition. The two parties have traditionally been political adversaries, which would make the state-level coalition a groundbreaking political decision potentially opening up new possibilities for the 2009 federal elections.
On Thursday, the CDU's regional leader, Hamburg mayor Ole von Beust recommended that local party officials begin coalition negotiations with the environmentalist Green Party. The move highlights the conservatives' preference to work with the Greens instead of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). A formal party announcement was set for Thursday evening, when the Greens were also planning to give a statement on their plans to enter coalition negotiations.
After leaders from the two parties met for almost seven hours on Wednesday, officials from both sides signaled an openness to pursue the unusual alliance after the February 24 election failed to provide a clear parliamentary majority. The newly elected Hamburg city parliament will meet for the first time next week.
The "black-green" coalition is on the table because Beust's CDU lost its majority after last month's vote and must therefore form a coalition to govern the city-state. The only two realistic coalition possibilities are the Greens and the SPD - because the CDU's traditional coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), didn't win enough votes to make it into parliament.
Christian Wulff (CDU), state premier of neighboring state of Lower Saxony, said that the "black-green" coalition decision is in "the best hands," speaking of Beust. "He doesn't need any advice from the outside," Wulff said.