German parties to discuss new government under center-left – The San Diego Union-Tribune

BERLIN — 

Germany’s environmentalist Greens said Wednesday they want to hold negotiations on a new governing coalition under the leadership of outgoing Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats, who narrowly won the country’s election.

The Sept. 26 election left two parties as likely kingmakers: the Greens, who finished third, and the business-friendly Free Democrats, who finished fourth. Those two parties could team up with either the Social Democrats or the center-right Union bloc of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel for a parliamentary majority.

The Greens traditionally lean to the left, while the Free Democrats in recent decades have mostly allied with the Union. All four parties have held bilateral meetings with each other in recent days.

The Greens’ leaders said they have now proposed to the Free Democrats that the two parties go into three-way talks with Scholz’s Social Democrats.

That combination appears to offer the “biggest overlaps in terms of content,” though there are “significant open questions and differences,” co-leader Robert Habeck.

He stressed that the door wasn’t completely slammed on a coalition with the Union.

“We have seen the Union really made an effort,” he added, but his party’s differences with the center-right bloc are bigger.

Questions have been raised over whether the Union is in any state to lead a new government after its candidate for chancellor, North Rhine-Westphalia state governor Armin Laschet, led it to its worst-ever result in the election.

The Free Democrats were expected to make a statement later Wednesday.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Germany’s election at https://apnews.com/hub/germany-election