Germany’s would-be coalition partners met on Saturday for a last-ditch round of weekend talks aimed at finding common ground in the divisive fields of climate and migration policy, in the hope of staving off a possible early election.
For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an awkward three-way conservative-liberal-Green alliance is her best hope of securing a fourth term, but the parties are still far apart after four weeks of talks.
The biggest sticking points are over climate change, where the Greens want emissions cuts that the other parties see as economically ruinous, and immigration, where Merkel’s arch-conservative allies in Bavaria insist on stricter rules.
“The next two days are going to be decisive,” said Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as he arrived for the talks.
A self-imposed deadline of Thursday for wrapping up exploratory talks and starting formal coalition negotiations passed without agreement, forcing the conservatives to promise further concessions on emissions cuts to the Greens.
Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) fears that it risks being topppled by the far-right in regional elections next year after 60 years in power if it fails to secure immigration red lines that are anathema to the left-leaning Greens.
“We’ll have a sense this evening of whether it’s going to work,” CSU leader Horst Seehofer said.