Germany's Greens party willing to explore Jamaica talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and the FDP

The Greens have voted unanimously to approve exploratory negotiations to form Germany's next government with Chancellor Merkel's CDU/CSU and the laissez-faire Free Democrats. Talks could start by the end of October.

The Greens unanimously approved exploratory talks with the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the laissez-faire Free Democrats (FDP). Led by Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Cem Özdemir, the Greens top candidates for 2017, a 14-member delegation will begin preliminary negotiations with the two right-wing parties this fall.

"We will make it clear in the talks that we want to achieve environmental progress and more social justice in a land in which the social structure is becoming brittle," the politically adaptable Greens announced.

A three-way "Jamaica coalition" appears the likely government after the Social Democrats ended their partnership with Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU following last Sunday's elections in order to deny the far-right Alternative for Germany the role of leading opposition party.

An unlikely alliance

Özdemir, the Greens' co-leader, told delegates in Berlin that the party would enter into the negotiations with its faithful in mind, but, he said, talks would likely prove complicated. Jamaica — so named because of the parties' colors: black for CDU, yellow for the FDP and, well, green for the Greens — is a "constellation that none of the players wished for," he said.

Göring-Eckardt, who ran alongside Özdemir as co-candidate this year, said that after Sunday's elections the Greens could not simply say that Jamaica "is unfortunately too tough for us." Nevertheless, she said, the talks could fall apart. "I have no fear of entering into harsh negotiations," Göring-Eckardt added.

And Simone Peter (pictured), the party's co-leader, said the Greens would need to go to the table with the FDP and CDU self-assuredly and not allow themselves "to be fobbed off with platitudes and memorandums of understanding." She called on her party to stick up for asylum rights and against imposing harsh austerity on EU members with fewer resources, as the CDU and FDP have done in the past. "For that reason, it is by no means finalized for me that FDP chief Christian Lindner will be the finance minister," she said, referring to the neoliberal party boss and his desired post in Germany's next government.

Should the exploratory talks prove promising, the Greens would vote again on whether to enter into formal negotiations. The CDU and the allied Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) will vote on October 8 on whether to consider talks with the Greens and the FDP.

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Colorful shorthand for German coalitions

Coalitions are common under Germany's proportional representation system. To describe complex ballot outcomes, political pundits use colorful symbolism, often alluding to the flags of other nations. Coalition short-hand includes 'Jamaica,' 'Kenya,' and 'traffic light' coalitions.

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'Jamaica' option - black, yellow and green

The three-way deal between the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats, whose color is yellow will not be happening at national level after the FDP called off talks. The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein currently has a "Jamaica" government, as CDU premier Daniel Günther governs with the FDP and the Greens.

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Black-red coalition

Conservative black combined with transformative red is the color code when the Christian Democrats govern in a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Yellow on these billboards alludes to Germany's tricolor flag of black, red and gold. Black tops the flag, signifying Germany's responsibility for the Holocaust.

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'Pizza Connection' in Bonn, before parliament moved to Berlin

When Bonn was still Germany's capital, individual conservatives and Greens met from 1995 in its suburban Italian Sassella restaurant. Since then, the 'Pizza Connection' has become code for speculation over further links. At regional level, in Hesse's Wiesbaden assembly, Merkel's CDU and Greens have governed together since 2014. Baden-Württemburg's Greens-CDU coalition has governed since 2016.

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Another untried combination: Black, red, green, symbolized by Kenya's flag

So far, a 'Kenyan' coalition has only emerged once at regional state level - last year in Saxony-Anhalt, when the SPD's vote collapsed, and the AfD took a quarter of the votes. Premier Reiner Haseloff of Merkel's conservatives forged a coalition comprising his conservative CDU, the battered SPD and the region's Greens.

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'Traffic light' coalition

The market-oriented liberal FDP, whose color is yellow, has in the past generally ruled out federal coalitions sandwiched between the Social Democrats, whose color is red, and the Greens. A current example is Rhineland Palatinate's three-way regional state coalition based in Mainz and headed by Social Democrat Malu Dreyer.

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Center-left combinations in three eastern states

Red-red-green coalitions exist in two German regions: since last September in Berlin city state and since 2014 in Thuringia. It's Erfurt-based government is headed by Left party premier Bodo Ramelow, seen signing (third from left). Berlin's three-way mix is headed by Social Democrat Michael Müller. Brandenburg has a two-way coalition, comprising the Social Democrats and the Left party.

mkg/jlw (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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