Germany’s Greens are seeking talks that would make Olaf Scholz the successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, snubbing her conservative bloc in a bid to push Europe’s largest economy to the left.
The Greens plan to begin exploratory talks with Scholz’s Social Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats to form a three-way governing coalition.
The initiative comes a day after co-leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck met with counterparts in the Christian Democrat-led bloc, where they highlighted major policy differences.
“It makes sense, with respect to the commonalities that we’ve been able to identify from these recent talks, to continue with a more substantial discussion with the FDP and the SPD,” Baerbock said Wednesday in Berlin. FDP officials are due to make a statement at 11 a.m local time.
A three-party coalition under Scholz, Merkel’s vice chancellor and finance minister since 2018, has emerged as the likeliest scenario after the Social Democrats’ narrow victory on Sept. 26.
The historic win over Merkel’s conservatives, led by Armin Laschet, has sent the CDU/CSU alliance into disarray.
In the 10 days since the election, German parties have been conducting separate talks to sound out the best path forward.
The Greens and the FDP, third and fourth in the vote, respectively, have taken the initiative, making a show of efforts to bridge differences and pushing the stronger parties into the background.
The SPD and the Greens are natural partners, having served together when Gerhard Schroeder was chancellor.
Their positions are close on numerous issues, including raising the minimum wage and demanding higher taxes from the wealthy.
That makes establishing common ground with the FDP critical to the success of the talks. The pro-business party insists on budget discipline and has vowed not to raise taxes.
During the campaign, FDP Chairman Christian Lindner voiced his clear preference for a three-way coalition under Laschet, but the conservative bloc’s stunning loss and subsequent infighting damaged those prospects.
Lindner, who is seeking to become finance minister, will be under pressure to secure a deal after pulling out of coalition talks four years ago, pushing the SPD reluctantly into another alliance with Merkel and her Christian Democrat-led bloc.
The exploratory talks are only the first step in Germany’s complex coalition process. If the SPD, Greens and FDP determine from the discussions that there’s potential for a governing alliance, they will open negotiations to hammer out joint objectives, involving teams of policymakers, late-night meetings and political crossfire.
Haunted by the aftermath of the 2017 election when it took nearly six months to form a government, Scholz and other officials are keen to move quickly and have parliament install Germany’s next chancellor by Christmas.