Merkel faces tough task finding coalition partners in divided Germany

World Today

Workers remove an election poster of the Christian Democrats with a photo of German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 after Sunday’s parliament elections. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was embarking Monday on a complicated quest to form a new government for Europe’s biggest economy and find answers to the rise of a nationalist, anti-migrant party. (Gregor Fischer/dpa via AP)

After winning a fourth term as Chancellor, Germany’s Angela Merkel now begins the difficult task of building a coalition government. But stunning gains made by far-right party Alternative for Germany is complicating that effort.

CGTN’s Guy Henderson reports from Berlin.

Follow Guy Henderson on Twitter @guyhendersonde

After a bruising election, Angela Merkel is struggling to find friends. The German Chancellor is at the point where she is now trying to reopen the door to her badly beaten junior coalition partner.

“We will start discussions both with the FDP and the Greens, but let me add, also with the SPD because I believe it’s important that Germany gets a stable, good government,” Merkel said. “I heard what the SPD said. Yet we should stay in contact.”

The center-left Social Democrats have already said they don’t want to talk, and instead prefer a return to opposition after the worst showing in the party’s history.

If that remains the case, the chancellor will need others to get a majority.

While the CDU won, it was also weakened. Potential coalition partners like Christian Lindner are exploiting this by laying out demands that could have implications far beyond Germany’s borders. In 2013, Lindner’s liberal Free Democrats fell out of parliament and government after four years of compromise with the CDU, which had left many supporters feeling alienated.

The new leadership is in no hurry to repeat the same mistakes.

“We want to change the direction of politics,” according to Lindner. “if this is not possible in government, then our place would be the opposition.”

Even if the party backed Merkel, the chancellor would still need the help of the center-left Greens, who are also wary.

All of this is a dream come true for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), who are promising the rattle the status quo on their first-ever entrance to parliament.

The AfD may have its own problems though. On Monday, a party leader stormed out of a press conference in anger at her own colleagues. Why remains unclear.

Leadership member of the hard-right party AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) Frauke Petry stands up to leave a press conference on the day after the German General elections on September 25, 2017 in Berlin, where she said she refused to join the AfD party’s parliamentary group. (AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN)

Lead candidate Alexander Gauland now speaks of new momentum for a force many thought was being snuffed out.

“Germany is far more deeply divided than you have seen it before,” he said. “I think the other division is to do with the Rust Belt in America; the jobless figure, what bought Trump the support of the white workforce. Even the Front National in France — which is a totally different phenomenon from the AfD — but you are right: Germany is much more divided than the Greens, the FDP, the CDU would like to accept.”

Merkel’s task is to disprove that.

Thomas Schwartz on historic gains of Germany’s far-right AfD party

Angela Merkel won a fourth term as German chancellor in federal elections, and must now begin the difficult task of building a coalition government. Far-right party AFD made stunning gains, complicating that process. Thomas Schwartz, professor of history and political science at Vanderbilt University, discusses the implications with CGTN’s Asieh Namdar.