Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), winners of last month’s nationwide parliamentary elections, said Wednesday they are holding talks with the nation’s Green Party and Free Democratic Party (FDP) — the respective third- and fourth-place finishers in the election, to try to form a ruling coalition.
While any deal is far from being made, the announcement puts SPD leader and outgoing Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz closer to leading Germany’s next government.
The SPD narrowly defeated Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) 25.7% to 24.1% in the September 26 elections, handing Merkel’s ruling coalition its worst-ever defeat.
But that narrow victory — and the fact that no party won a clear majority in parliament — left some room for the CDU to form a ruling coalition with one or both of the smaller parties. Immediately following the election, the Greens and the FDP agreed to meet with both parties and each other to see what could be negotiated.
On Wednesday, following preliminary talks last week with both the top two parties, Green Party leaders said serious negotiations with Scholz’s SPD “makes the most sense.” Green co-leader Robert Habeck told reporters that while there is still a lot to be discussed, “last week’s talks showed this is where the greatest overlaps are conceivable, especially in the broad area of social policy.”
FDP leader Christian Lindner confirmed the three-way talks could begin as early as Thursday.
CDU leader Armin Laschet told reporters they are still open to more talks but that decision lies with the two smaller parties.
Merkel was asked about her party’s chances Wednesday while speaking to reporters at a European Union Summit in Slovenia.
“The CDU did not get the best of voting results,” she said.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.