German coalition talks: Greens want to govern with Social Democrats and FDP

Greens co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck give a press conference on Wednesday after exploratory talks.
Greens co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck give a press conference on Wednesday after exploratory talks. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld
Germany's Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock said on Wednesday that her party wanted to try to form a three-way coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the liberal FDP, dealing a blow to Angela Merkel's conservatives.

After preliminary talks with the SPD and Merkel’s CDU-CSU, the Greens “believe it makes sense… to have in-depth talks with the SPD and FDP”, Baerbock told reporters.

The centre-left SPD won the German election held on September 26th, with the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) coming in at a close second. 

However, both the SPD’s Olaf Scholz and the CDU’s Armin Laschet say they want to form their own governing coalition. 

The Greens and the FDP, which came third and fourth in the vote, will now hold their first three-way coalition talks with the SPD on Thursday, Liberal FDP leader Christian Lindner said later on Wednesday morning. 

The smaller parties, who are not natural bedfellow, have emerged as kingmakers to the two bigger parties, with both the SPD and the conservatives needing their help if they want to lead the next government.

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‘New beginning’

Baerbock said Germany faced “great challenges” and needed “a new beginning”.

“This country can’t afford a lengthy stalemate,” she said about the Greens’ proposal to swiftly move onto the next phase of formal, exploratory coalition talks.

All sides are eager to avoid a repeat of the 2017 election aftermath, when coalition wrangling went on for months.

The move brings Finance Minister Scholz from the SPD a step closer to becoming Germany’s new chancellor.

SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz walks in the Bundestag after the German election.
SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz walks in the Bundestag after the German election. Will he be the next chancellor? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The CDU’s Merkel, who has been chancellor for 16 years, is still head of the caretaker government but she will step down when a new government is formed. 

Green light for traffic light?

The parties have been taking part in so-called exploratory talks before formal coalition negotiations take place. 

Baerbock said after these initial discussions, the Greens are now firmly interested in building a governing team with the SPD and the FDP.

A tie-up between these parties, which would be a first in Germany, has been dubbed a “Traffic Light” constellation after the parties’ red, green and yellow colours.

READ ALSO: 10 German words you need to know to keep up with the coalition talks

Green co-leader Robert Habeck, speaking at the same press conference, said the Greens had asked the FDP to accept the offer of entering three-way talks with the SPD.

The informal talks over the last few days had shown there was “more overlap” with the Social Democrats, he said, on issues like climate protection, social justice and European integration.

Habeck said the election result must now be “translated into political action” and no longer maintained as an “artificial poker game”.

Habeck added, however, that the Greens had no intention of outright rejecting a so-called Jamaica constellation with the CDU/CSU and FDP (the party colours of green, black and yellow match the Jamaican flag). But at this point the Greens were pushing for a Traffic Light coalition.

He said while there was some common ground with the conservatives, there were “significant differences” too.


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