Berlin, Sept. 27 (BNA) Germany’s Social Democrats said on Monday they would begin the process of trying to form a tripartite coalition and lead a government for the first time since 2005, after narrowly winning national elections on Sunday.
Social Democrats candidate Olaf Scholz said he aims to build a coalition with the Greens and the Liberal Democrats (FDP), saying Germans voted to send Angela Merkel’s conservatives into the opposition after 16 years in power.
“What you see here is a very happy SPD,” Schulz, 63, told supporters at his party headquarters in Berlin, as he held a bouquet of red and white flowers.
“The voters have spoken very clearly…They have strengthened three parties – the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party – and so this is the clear mandate given by the citizens of this country – these three must form the next government.”
The Social Democratic Party won 25.7% of the vote, ahead of Merkel’s conservative bloc CDU/CSU 24.1%, according to preliminary results. The Greens came in at 14.8% and the FDP at 11.5%, the dpa reports.
The recovery of the Social Democrats marks a temporary revival for center-left parties in parts of Europe, after Democrat Joe Biden was elected US president in 2020. Norway’s centre-left opposition party also won the election earlier this month.
Schultz, who was finance minister in Merkel’s outgoing “grand coalition”, said on Sunday he hoped to agree to form a coalition before Christmas. But his rival Christian Democrat Armin Laschet, 60, said he could still try to form a government despite the conservatives’ worst-ever election result.
Merkel, who has not run for a fifth term as chancellor, will remain in an interim role during coalition negotiations that will determine the future course of Europe’s largest economy.
German stocks rose on Monday, with investors pleased that the pro-business FDP looked likely to join the next government while the far left Lenke failed to win enough votes to be considered a coalition partner.
“From a market perspective, the good news should be that a left-wing alliance is mathematically impossible,” said Jens Oliver Niklash, an economist at LBBW, adding that other parties have enough in common to find a workable compromise.
Personalities and ministerial positions are likely to be more important in the end than politics.
The two sides will start talking about each other on Monday about potential alliances in informal discussions.
The Greens and the Free Democratic Party said late Sunday that they would first talk to each other to look for areas of compromise before starting negotiations with the SPD or the Conservatives.
If Schulz succeeds in forming a coalition, the former mayor of Hamburg would become the fourth chancellor of the SPD after World War II and the first since Merkel took office from Gerhard Schroeder in 2005.
Merkel has stood strong on the European stage ever since – when George W. Bush was president of the United States, Jacques Chirac was the French leader and Tony Blair was the British prime minister.
But Berlin’s allies in Europe and beyond will likely have to wait months before they can see how the new German government will deal with international issues.
Assuming Scholzkan agree to a deal with the Greens and the FDP, the Greens could provide the foreign minister, as they did with Joschka Fischer in their previous two-way alliance with the SPD, while the FDP sets its sights on the finance ministry.
The spat between Washington and Paris over a deal for Australia to buy the United States instead of French submarines has put Germany in an awkward position among allies, but it also gives Berlin a chance to mend ties and help rethink a common Western position on China.
On economic policy, French President Emmanuel Macron is eager to formulate a common European fiscal policy, supported by the Greens, but the CDU/CSU and the FDP refuse. The Greens also want a “massive expansion offensive to renewables”.
One thing is certain: the future government will not include the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which scored 10.3% on Sunday, down from 12.6% four years ago when they stormed the national parliament for the first time. All major politicians rule out an alliance with the party.