German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for talks between his centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) to form a progressive coalition in Berlin.
Sunday’s general election saw the SPD win five points on 25.7 percent of the vote, while its main rival, the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU), slipped by nine points to 24.1 percent.
Schulz described the gains of the SPD and the two smaller parties – 14.8 per cent for the Greens and 11.5 per cent for the FDP – as a “visual mandate” from voters to govern Berlin.
“The CDU/CSU not only lost significant support, but also received a message from citizens that they should not be in the government but in the opposition,” he told reporters at the SPD headquarters.
A closed-door meeting of top CDU/CSU officials saw a heated debate over who to blame for the worst coalition outcome in its history — and the way forward after four terms in office.
CDU leader Armin Laschet faces his toughest post-election test Tuesday morning at the last meeting of the outgoing parliamentary party, CDU/CSU, including 94 lawmakers who lost their seats after his lackluster campaign.
CDU leader since January, Laschet – premier of North Rhine-Westphalia – had little time to gain political influence in the corridors of the Bundestag, and on Monday struggled to get his party’s steering committee behind his post-election strategy.
Amid pressure from younger members, Laschet promised to “rejuvenate” the party’s front bench, but refused to step aside and pledged exploratory talks with the Greens and the Free Democratic Party for a so-called “Jamaica” coalition, referring to the colors. Who knows that country?
Laschet insisted that “nobody has a clear claim to rule,” downplaying the 1.6 percentage point gap for the SPD.
Among the defeats suffered by the CDU during a painful election night was the loss of the SPD’s seat to former Chancellor Angela Merkel, which it has won eight times in a row since 1990.
While her successor as CDU leader spoke of Sunday’s result, Laschet was attacked by CSU officials in Munich as “the wrong candidate in the wrong campaign”.
CSU leader Marcus Soder, who had hoped to lead the CDU/CSU campaign, insisted that his center-right bloc “doesn’t have the automatic right to form a government” after Sunday’s result — but it does have the right to make a political show to others.
“It was a defeat, when you lose so many votes it can’t be painted differently,” he said.
With invitations received from all sides, Green Party leaders indicated that they share Schulz’s preference for the so-called “traffic lights” coalition from the SPD-Green-FDP.
“The last hours have shown that the CDU/CSU is on the way to bid farewell to government involvement, so there is a certain rationale for INF talks with SPD and FDP,” said Robert Habeck, co-leader of Green. “But anything is possible and we take this very seriously.”
FDP leader Christian Lindner was less enthusiastic about the so-called “traffic light” option, given the SPD/Green proposals for higher taxes and more flexibility in the budget deficit – policies that run counter to those of his party and its core voter base.
“There are significant differences between the Green Party and the FDP,” he said, before calling for informal talks between the two parties to see if they could find common ground as a “progressive center” for any new alliance.
When parties began examining their results postmortem, the election remnants were not as large as with the extreme leftist Link Party, or the Left Party. He has failed to cross the five percent hurdle needed for a parliamentary party, but will still have 39 deputies in parliament thanks to party-specific rules that secure a large number of directly elected parliamentarians.
Lenke’s leaders said Monday that their electoral slowdown, which saw the party slip 4.3 points to 4.9 percent, was largely a result of the SPD’s rediscovery of its traditional social justice platform and its failure to advance issues related to its traditional eastern electoral base.
In these areas, it has been replaced as a local protest party by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
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