Angela Merkel's coalition conundrum: Takeaways from Day 1
Building a so-called "Jamaica" coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats currently looks to be the most likely path to power for Chancellor Angela Merkel. A few key points from the election aftermath.
Merkel won't rule out 'grand coalition' just yet
Although somewhat weakened by their worst election showing since 1949, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives remain the largest party and are looking for coalition partners.
Merkel still hasn't ruled out governing in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), even if the center-left party's leadership apparently doesn't want to play ball.
On Monday, Merkel increased the pressure on the SPD to reconsider and work with the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). "All the parties are capable of joining a coalition and have a responsibility to help create a stable coalition," Merkel said, adding that she wanted to speak to the SPD.
On Sunday, SPD leader Martin Schulz said his party would be "a strong opposition force in this country, to defend democracy against those who question it and attack it."
'Jamaica' puzzle poses a few problems
Another option open to Merkel might be a so-called "Jamaica" coalition with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) as junior partners to the CDU-CSU. The chancellor has said she also plans to speak to both parties.
However, such a coalition — so named because the three parties' colors are represented on the Jamaican flag — would pose some major problems.
That much was apparent on Monday when FDP leader Christian Lindner took a swipe at the Greens, accusing them of being obsessed with banning fossil fuel power stations and cars.
"The Greens will have to tread a very long road to reach discussions about 'Jamaica'," he said.
The 38-year-old FDP leader has also said he opposes any reform of the single currency eurozone that would create a centralized budget to help smooth out financial problems experienced by individual European countries. "We think it's necessary for the law to encourage individual responsibility" in European countries' finances, Lindner stated.
Read more: Uncharted political waters for Angela Merkel
Merkel has welcomed the prospect of deeper European integration. but has pledged she will not set out red lines on European policy for now, giving her some wiggle room in coalition talks.
AfD co-chair Petry won't join her party
Frauke Petry the co-chair and longtime public face of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), will not be joining her party's parliamentary grouping in the new Bundestag, after months of feuding with the rest of the AfD leadership.
"We should be open about the fact that there is conflict regarding content within the AfD, we should not pretend it doesn't exist," Petry told reporters on Monday.
She added that the party, which is set to enter the Bundestag for the first time, had become "anarchical" in the weeks leading up to the election and "cannot offer the voter a credible platform for government."
Recently, Petry publicly criticized party co-leader Alexander Gauland for saying the AfD would "go after" the new government and that Germany should be proud of its soldiers in World War I and II, comments which she said were not constructive and could push voters away from the party.
All other political parties have said they are unwilling to work with the AfD.
CDU's sister party may prove tricky partner
The leader of Merkel's Bavarian CSU allies, Horst Seehofer — who has been a vocal critic of Merkel's asylum policy — characterized the vote outcome as a "bitter disappointment" on Monday. His party had also suffered its worst result in decades.
Aware that the conservatives lost many of their voters to the AfD, Seehofer said that the CDU-CSU needed to close "an open flank to the right."
Read more: The day after: As it happened
Seehofer, the Bavaria state premier, has said the CSU needs to reconsider its relationship with the CDU. Although both are strictly separate parties, they have formed a parliamentary bloc for generations.
Seehofer has, in the past, been quick to speak his mind and he is not afraid of issuing threats to Merkel. He might not be the easiest partner for the chancellor to deal with in coalition talks, especially when it comes to security and immigration.