Germany's Greens rule out further coalition talks with Merkel
By Alexandra Hudson, ReutersBERLIN - Germany's Greens ruled out any further coalition talks with Angela Merkel's conservatives early on Wednesday, leaving the chancellor to focus on discussions with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in her efforts to form a new government.
October 16, 2013, 2:13 pm TWN
After almost six hours of detailed policy discussions the Greens concluded they simply did not have enough in common with Merkel's conservative bloc in areas such as energy, climate targets and taxation, to make further discussions fruitful.
"After these talks the Greens do not find themselves able to enter coalition talks," said Hermann Groehe, second-in-command of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).
"We will approach the representatives of the SPD tomorrow with a view to scheduling the explorative talks we had already eyed for Thursday."
Merkel needs to find a partner for her third term after she won September's election but fell short of an absolute majority. Polls suggest the German public would like her to enter full-blown negotiations with the SPD, and aim for a repeat of the 'grand coalition' in which she governed from 2005-2009.
The SPD, however, are playing hard to get. Its representatives spoke to the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), for eight hours on Monday, and while stating their willingness to talk again, they also said they could also say no to Merkel.
The prospect of months of coalition talks worries Germany's European partners, who fear delays to crucial decisions for fighting the euro zone crisis, such as a plan for banking union.
An eventual grand coalition is expected to boost spending on investment in Germany, helping shore up Europe's largest economy and increasing trade with the struggling euro zone, helping address imbalances.
Although the CDU/CSU and Greens were ultimately unable to bridge differences, the fact that the former arch-enemies spoke at all and for so long is already groundbreaking and signals a new political culture in Germany.
"I want to stress that even in areas where there were differences, there were none which we would have viewed as insurmountable," said Groehe.
However, taxation appeared a major stumbling block, with the Greens anxious to fund an ambitious investment program.