Angela Merkel resumed talks to build coalition or face new polls

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during the COP23 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Vastavam web:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel resumed complex coalition talks today in a last-ditch effort to forge a government and avert a political crisis in Europe’s biggest economy.The veteran leader, in power since 2005, won a September 24 vote without a clear majority for her conservative CDU/CSU bloc, largely because of the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), and must now build an unlikely alliance with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and left-leaning.Until and unless the motley crew of four parties, which spans the mainstream political spectrum, strikes a deal, Germany’s government remains in effective limbo with Merkel serving as a caretaker chancellor.

If they fail, Germany would probably hold snap elections, which would leave Merkel increasingly exposed to a rising band of critics within her own ranks and could further bolster the anti-Islam AfD.”There is the will to ensure that this political task succeeds, but it cannot succeed at any price,” warned Alexander Dobrindt, a member of the CSU, the Bavarian party allied with Merkel, after arriving for the talks.

Albrecht von Luckem, a political scientist, told news channel NTV that already “the loser is Angela Merkel” because, rather than be seen as battling for ideas, she had “fought strategically to maintain power”.Hours after a 15-hour red-eye meeting ended at around 4:00 am yesterday, Merkel, the veteran of countless all-night EU summits, said that “the task of forming a government for Germany is so important that the effort is worthwhile”.Horst Seehofer, the embattled leader of the CSU, said that “we have the goal of finishing by Sunday” because the German people had the right to know whether or not a new government could be formed.

Deep differences also remain on climate policy, where the Greens want to phase out dirty coal and combustion-engine cars, while the conservatives and FDP emphasise the need to protect industry and jobs.The Greens face a party congress in a week’s time, where rank-and-file members will give the thumbs up or down on the concessions their leaders may have wrested from the other parties.Martin Schulz of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD)  Merkel’s former junior coalition partner, which went into opposition after a stinging election loss — re-emerged to criticise the painful process.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper commented that, despite the hurdles, “Merkel can’t afford to fail, because the SPD… won’t come to her rescue again”.The smaller parties, it said, “are already fighting at the expense of the chancellor, who won’t necessarily get the credit if the talks succeed, but who will certainly be blamed if this experiment fails”.