The Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany’s centre-left indicated on Sunday that they were ready to enter three-way coalition negotiations with the Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), but the two smaller parties left open the possibility of a different alliance with the conservatives.
A tight election result last Sunday, in which no party gained an overwhelming majority, has sparked months of coalition discussions, with the SPD and conservatives wooing the FDP and Greens in the hopes of winning power.
According to polls, respondents prefer the SPD, which won the election by a razor-thin margin, heading a coalition with the business-friendly FDP and the environmentalist Greens.
“The SPD is now ready for three-way negotiations,” said Lars Klingbeil, the SPD’s general secretary, after meetings with both the FDP and the Greens on Sunday.
The FDP, on the other hand, is closer to Merkel’s conservatives, and the two centre-right parties also met.
After meeting with a delegation from the CDU/CSU conservative alliance, FDP General Secretary Volker Wissing remarked, “We had a productive conversation and have few barriers in terms of content.”
Despite a record low vote in the national election, the conservatives were ready to continue the discussions.
The negotiations with the FDP left the conservative bloc “hungry for more,” according to Markus Blume, general secretary of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), Merkel’s sister party in Bavaria.
The SPD would be a better partner for the Greens and the FDP, who are on opposing sides of the political spectrum and disagree on a variety of topics. Wissing has previously stated that forming an alliance between the FDP and the SPD would be difficult.
The conclusion of Sunday’s discussions, which were seen as “productive” by all parties, raises the stakes for talks between the conservatives and the Greens on Tuesday. Annalena Baerbock, the Greens’ co-leader, said they will determine how to continue following that meeting.
Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, intends to stand aside once a new government is established, but will remain in office until then.