The Social Democratic Party's (SPD) failed attempt to work with the hard-line socialist Left Party in the German state of Hesse has destroyed the trust between the SPD and the conservatives led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Schäuble told the daily newspaper Die Welt in an interview.
“The minimum level of trust you need to have – regardless of competing politically – is now seriously damaged,” he said.
Schäuble was careful to add that Christian Democrats still intended to govern with the centre-left SPD until the next general election in 2009. “It will be ended orderly,” he said, but noted that the CDU hoped to ditch the SPD for a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).
Though the FDP remains the CDU's preferred partner, Schäuble urged his party to be flexible in seeking out new political alliances, such as the possible coalition between the CDU and the environmentalist Greens in Hamburg.
“We have to rethink the idea that all democratic parties fundamentally must be considered for coalitions,” Schäuble said.