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November 20, 2017
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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

September 25, 2017
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After 12 years in office, German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in Sunday's national elections, though it was the worst showing since 1949 for both her conservative Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union (CDU-CSU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). The recently formed Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won about 94 seats in the 709-seat Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, making it the third-largest bloc and the first right-wing nationalist party to win seats since World War II. Merkel's bloc will have about 246 seats.

The SPD, which had governed in coalition with Merkel's Christian Democrats, said it will go into opposition, leaving Merkel with a narrow path to a governing majority, likely with the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens — called a "Jamaica coalition" because the parties' colors form the Jamaican flag. Merkel said she'd hoped for a "better result." But the AfD had its own issues. At an AfD news conference on Monday, party co-chairwoman Frauke Petry, who had unsuccesfully pushed for excluding extremist members, announced that "after long reflection," she wouldn't caucus with her party in the Bundestag, then walked out without taking questions. "I'd like to apologize in the name of my party," co-chairman Joerg Meuthen said after she left. "This wasn't discussed with us." Peter Weber

September 24, 2017

Germans head to the polls Sunday in a vote anticipated to give Chancellor Angela Merkel her fourth term in office. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is predicted to take about 34 percent of Bundestag seats with which it will form a coalition government with Merkel again at the head.

"There are a lot of problems in other countries, think Donald Trump or Brexit," one Berlin voter told NBC News. "With Merkel there is a sense that there is no great problem that she couldn't overcome, and that she's a politician you can trust."

The growth of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — which campaigned on a populist, anti-immigration message and could well become the Bundestag's third-largest party out of six represented — has raised alarm among many Germans concerned about extremism. Turnout is expected to be high. Bonnie Kristian