Germany’s budding coalition partners likely to move toward formal talks

BERLIN – The three political parties that want to form the next German government signaled on Tuesday that formal talks could begin earlier than expected – a signal that the new coalition could be sworn in before the end of the year.

Top MPs of the parties have been in exploratory talks for a possible “traffic light” coalition since the weekend – with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens. In one press conference On Tuesday, Michael Kellner of the Greens stated that “the number of shared views has increased while the number of differences has decreased”.

While some issues remain difficult, the parties will quickly prepare for their next big meeting on Friday, added the party’s secretary-general Kellner.

“Talking politely and factually with one another is one thing – putting what has been said in writing is the moment of truth,” said his FDP colleague Volker Wissing. He also referred to Friday as the day when his party’s leaders should decide whether to move to formal talks.

Formal coalition talks could begin as early as next week, which makes the formation of a new government under SPD chairman Olaf Scholz a plausible scenario before Christmas.

This result would be a sharp contrast to the exploratory talks of the coalition in 2017, which dragged on well into November before the FDP abruptly split from the CDU and the Greens. This time the parties chose to tackle the difficult and important files first.

“It’s about talking about the things that … in the end are really big issues that need to be clarified,” said Lars Klingbeil from the SPD. “Exploratory talks are different from coalition talks, but the way we are conducting these exploratory talks right now is very important to anything that may follow.”

All three refused to divulge the content of their meetings, only signaling that the atmosphere was constructive. When asked by a journalist whether he thinks a traffic light coalition is more likely, Klingbeil smiles. “As I just said, we are on the right track,” he said.


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