Green leader: ‘Long way’ to go in talks to form German govt

Sunday, Oct 10, 2021

BERLIN: A Greens leader says the multiparty talks on forming a new German government have “a long way to go” and will have to bridge significant policy differences.

The centre-left Social Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats held their first round of talks Thursday on a possible coalition. If they eventually succeed, the alliance would send outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Union bloc into opposition after her 16 years leading Europe's biggest economy.

More discussions are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. But the process of putting together a new government can take weeks or months in Germany, and Merkel and her government will stay in a caretaker role in the meantime.

“We have a long way to go, and it will get very arduous," Robert Habeck, one of the Greens' two leaders, told Deutschlandfunk radio in an interview broadcast Saturday. “The public will see that there are some conflicts between the possible coalition partners.”

Habeck identified finance as a particularly difficult issue in the talks — including how to fund investments in fighting climate change and approaches for dealing with the debt that European Union countries have run up during the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent decades, the Free Democrats have mostly allied with the Union, while the Greens traditionally lean left. A three-way alliance with the Social Democrats has been tried successfully in Germany at the state level, but not yet in a national government.

If the negotiations result in a coalition, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz — the vice chancellor in Merkel's outgoing government — would become Germany's new leader.