Merkel begins talks with SPD as time running out on hopes of coalition

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Merkel begins talks with SPD as time running out on hopes of coalition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in talks with a new group to form a coalition government.

Leaders are looking to reach a plan over the next five days. CGTN’s Guy Henderson reports.Follow Guy Henderson on Twitter @GuyHendersonDE

Merkel arrived for exploratory talks weakened, but still the main player. For the chancellor, forming a new government as quickly as possible is the priority.

“I think we can succeed,” she said. “We intend to work very swiftly and intensively, always keeping in mind what the people of Germany expect from their politicians: to solve their problems and create the conditions so that people can really get involved in our country.”

The Christian Democratic Party’s conservative sister party from Bavaria sees no good alternative.

“Let me say it again: We must come to an agreement,” Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer told reporters.

The center-left Social Democrats may need more convincing, however. They had earlier pledged to return to opposition, and say they’ll only take part in a repeat of the so-called ‘Grand Coalition’ government if some of their key proposals are met.

“One thing is clear for the Social Democratic Party: We won’t be drawing any red lines, but we want to push through as much red politics as possible in Germany,” party leader Martin Schulz said.

Four years of compromise may have taken its toll on the three governing parties, all of which lost votes in September’s election, mainly to the far right Alternative for Germany. Talks for the CDU to govern with two smaller parties collapsed in November.

They now face a choice: Ignore the political risks and compromise again, or accept a period of extended uncertainty.

The aim of these talks is to find out whether the parties have enough in common to even start negotiating. There’s a news blackout until Thursday, which will prevent much information from coming out.

If the answer is no, then fresh elections or a minority government are likely.