German public backs Angela Merkel's plans for a 'Jamaica coalition': survey

Chancellor Angela Merkel has the backing of nearly 60 percent of voters to form a ruling coalition with the Greens and FDP, a new survey says. However, Germany may have to wait until the new year for a new government.

Fortunately for Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most likely option when it comes to forming a governing coalition for the new Bundestag — the "Jamaica coalition" — would have the public's blessing.

A poll commissioned by the German broadcaster ZDF found that 59 percent of voters favored a three-way coalition of Merkel's conservative Union bloc, the Greens and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP). The term "Jamaica coalition" comes from the three parties' colors — respectively, black, green and yellow — which corresponds with those of the Caribbean nation's flag.

Read more: Migration: Angela Merkel's first hurdle to forming a coalition

Though coalition negotiations are expected to last for several months and new obstacles continue to surface, just under 80 percent of those surveyed said they believed that such a coalition would eventually come to fruition.

Meanwhile less than a quarter of voters said they would prefer to see a continuation of the grand coalition made up of Merkel's conservative Union and the Social Democrats (SPD).

For the survey, researchers questioned 1,425 German voters, chosen at random, between Tuesday and Thursday — two to four days after the election.

Coalition talks to go into 2018

On Friday, Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, said coalition negotiations could carry on into 2018. In an interview with German weekly Focus, Altmaier said he hoped that coalition terms could be agreed on by Christmas, but stressed that "the substance and not the timing was most significant."

Altmaier also advised the parties against prematurely discussing their conditions for going into government and drawing red lines.

Read more: Opinion: Sunny days are over for Angela Merkel

Talks are not scheduled to start until after the state elections in Lower Saxony on October 15.

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Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the allied Bavarian Christian Social Union also want to clarify the future of their parliamentary party after they lost almost 1 million voters to the far-right AfD.

SPD reconsidering grand coalition?

A three-way pairing with the FDP and Greens became Merkel's only coalition option after the SPD, the outgoing junior partner in the chancellor's current government, said it would go into the opposition after it suffered a historically low election result of 20.5 percent.

Read more: Who is Andrea Nahles, the new SPD leader in parliament?

The prospect of an SPD-led opposition was greeted by 62 percent of German voters, according to the ZDF poll.

However, SPD parliamentary chairman Thomas Oppermann said in a televised interview Thursday evening that the party may have to reconsider its decision in the rare event that Angela Merkel resigned or coalition talks between the Union, Greens and FDP completely broke down.

Reports from news agency Reuters on Friday suggested that Schulz had considered resigning as SPD leader following his crushing election defeat, before vowing to fight on and revamp the party.

"The next four years will be about nothing less than the very existence of German, even European social democracy," Schulz wrote in a letter to party members. 

He also took a swipe at his predecessor, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, for only stepping down and nominating him as the SPD's election candidate just eight months ahead of the vote.


'Kohl's girl' leaves moniker behind

Longtime Chancellor Helmut Kohl gave Merkel her first cabinet post and facilitated her rise. After losing the chancellorship in 1998, his onetime acolyte turned her back and that of their Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on him. Merkel, then CDU secretary general, said Kohl, who had accepted a cash donation from sources he refused to reveal, had hurt the party. The CDU moved on without him.


Gerhard Schröder - end of a political career

Merkel was Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's undoing in the 2005 election, though his own vanity was also to blame. His Social Democrats (SPD) finished one point behind her conservative CDU/CSU alliance. On TV with Merkel and other party heads, Schröder insisted Germans had made clear they wanted him to stay. The others rebuffed his apparently absurd claim. She became chancellor. He quit politics.


Frank-Walter Steinmeier - ever the partner

Frank-Walter Steinmeier had been Germany's foreign minister, serving under Merkel, for nearly four years when the Social Democrat challenged her in the 2009 election. Many people said the SPD's heavy defeat was because of his lack of a popular touch. But he bounced back and in 2013 returned as the country's top diplomat, again with Merkel as the boss. He became Germany's president in March 2017.


Günther Oettinger - out of the way

Eliminating competitors doesn't always mean forcing them off the political scene. Merkel dispatched her party colleague and potential rival Günther Oettinger, premier of the state of Baden-Württemberg, to a top job in the European Commission in 2010. Oettinger had no track record in EU politics and even then was known for sticking his foot in his mouth. He is on his third position as commissioner.


Roland Koch - left out in the cold

Roland Koch was known in some parts for his friendship with the Dalai Lama, in others for collecting millions of signatures to catapult the government's plans for dual citizenship. The state premier of Hesse was part of a clique of CDU men who never anticipated Merkel's rise, and then were sure they'd outlast her. Koch waited in vain to be offered a job in Berlin. In the end, she outlasted him.


Christian Wulff - an unfortunate president

Christian Wulff wasn't Merkel's first pick for president, but left in a pinch when Horst Köhler resigned in 2010, party leaders wouldn't to agree to Ursula von der Leyen, now defense minister. The choice of Wulff, the CDU state premier of Lower Saxony who had been rumored to be unhappy in his position, came as a surprise to him, too. He resigned over corruption charges and was later acquitted.


Peer Steinbrück - right man, wrong time

Merkel had reached the peak of her career by the time the SPD decided Peer Steinbrück should run against her in the 2013 election. She was unchallenged in her party and had come to dominate managing the euro and debt crisis in Brussels. Steinbrück, a finance minister under Merkel and ex-state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, had the expertise to be chancellor, but he had little chance.

dm/kms (dpa, AFP)