Germany's Merkel 'very skeptical' on minority government
BERLIN – The Associated Press
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Nov. 20 that she was "very skeptical" about leading a minority government if no coalition could be formed to run Europe's biggest economy and thinks a new election would be a better solution
Her comments came after the country's president appealed to political leaders to rethink their positions and try again to form a new government after coalition talks between Merkel's conservatives and two parties collapsed. But there was little immediate indication his call would be heeded, and a new election looked increasingly likely.
The conservative Merkel spent four weeks haggling with the pro-business Free Democrats and the traditionally left-leaning Greens on a new, untried governing coalition until the Free Democrats walked out on Nov. 19 night.
Her partners in the outgoing government, the center-left Social Democrats, said on Nov. 20 they would not join a new Merkel administration, a stance the party has repeated time and again since it slumped to a disastrous defeat in Germany's Sept. 24 election. No other politically plausible combination of parties has a majority in parliament.
"We now face a situation that we haven't had in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, so in nearly 70 years," President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters after meeting Merkel. It is Steinmeier who will have to decide whether to pave the way for a minority government or a new election.
"This is the moment at which all parties should pause and reconsider their position," he said. "I expect from everyone readiness to talk, in order to make the formation of a government possible in the foreseeable future."
Steinmeier said he will meet leaders of all the parties involved in the failed talks, as well as others, in the coming days.
Merkel said the situation was "regrettable" but insisted that "we nevertheless have stability in our country." She deferred to Steinmeier on the next steps.
It's likely to be a while before the situation is resolved.
If neither the Free Democrats nor the Social Democrats budge, that leaves as the only options another election or a minority government - a setup that has never been tried in post-World War II Germany. The German Constitution doesn't allow parliament to dissolve itself, so the decision lies with Steinmeier.
"I don't have a minority government in my plans," Merkel said in an interview on Nov. 20 with ARD public television's Brennpunkt program.
"I don't want to say never today, but I am very skeptical and I think that new elections would then be the better way."