German Greens pull out of coalition talks with Merkel

German Greens pull out of coalition talks with Merkel

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German Greens pull out of coalition talks with Merkel

The Green party delegation (from L) Claudia Roth, Winfried Kretschmann, Cem Oezdemir, Anton Hofreiter, Katrin Goering-Eckardt and Juergen Trittin make their way to a meeting for talks with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) for the 2nd round of exploratory talks on forming a coalition government in Berlin on October 15, 2013. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE

Germany’s Green party pulled out of coalition talks Oct. 16 with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, who must now get their rival Social Democrats on board in order to form a new government.

“The Greens don’t want to negotiate on a coalition,” party Vice-President Claudia Roth told a press conference after the lengthy talks on joining Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), broke down.

“Do we have a solid basis for four years of (coalition) government? That didn’t seem to us to be the case after these talks,” she added. Hermann Groehe, secretary general of Merkel’s CDU party confirmed that talks had collapsed. Negotiations on forming a left-right “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats (SPD) are due to resume today.

Despite a convincing win at the polls on Sept. 22, the CDU and CSU need to form an alliance with another party in order to ensure a majority in parliament. A recent poll showed two-thirds of Germans would favor a left-right “grand coalition” between the two big parties, Merkel’s conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats.

The two main parties have already held two rounds of talks with a third already penciled in for today before the talks with the Greens broke down. The CDU and the Greens have never governed together at national level, although they have done so regionally.

Groehe stressed the “intensity” of the negotiations and the “great mutual respect” between the two parties, despite their policy differences, which center mainly around social issues. The secretary-general of the Bavarian CSU, more conservative than the CDU and thus even less close to the Greens, said he had been surprised by the “serious level” of the talks. The conservatives had not found “insurmountable obstacles,” to working with the ecologists, he added.

Among the issues where the Greens and Merkel could not bridge the gap, Roth cited policy on refugees and asylum seekers, as well as on energy and arms exports. For his part Groehe said the conservatives were strongly opposed to the high taxes envisaged by the Greens.

The Social Democrats will decide at a convention of 200 delegates on Oct. 20 whether to enter into formal discussions with Merkel on forming a new “grand coalition.”