In late September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union (CDU-CSU) party won a plurality of seats in Germany's parliament, but early Monday, her bid for a fourth term as chancellor hit a significant snag when the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) unexpectedly pulled out of coalition talks. FDP leader Christian Lindner told reporters that in their four weeks of negotiations, the DCU, FDP, and Greens were unable to agree on policy or a direction for Germany. "It is better not to rule than to rule badly," he said. "Goodbye!"
Merkel said Monday morning that a deal had been within reach and that she intended to stay on as chancellor but would inform President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the failed talks and discuss how to move forward. Steinmeier could call new elections or Merkel could lead a minority government with the Greens — both of which would be firsts for post-war Germany — or try to convince the Social Democrats (SDP), her coalition partners in her previous term, to stick around, despite the beating they took after aligning with her. The SDP has ruled out governing with Merkel's party again, though Germany's traditional parties are wary of the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gaining strength in new elections.
The FDP had been coalition partners with Merkel from 2009 to 2013, before losing all their seats for four years. After their comeback, it's strange they would walk away from governing with Merkel again, Jackson Janes at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University tells Reuters. "And it is also a dangerous game of poker for Germany." The talks reportedly broke down over immigration as well as taxes and environmental policy. Peter Weber