Berlin – Chancellor Angela Merkel was left battling for political survival on Monday after high-stakes talks to form a new government collapsed, plunging Germany into a crisis that could trigger fresh elections. While the Green Party demanded to phase out coal power and combustion-engine cars, the conservatives and FDP emphasised the need to protect industry and jobs.
And with no other viable coalition in sight, Germany may be forced to hold new elections that risk being as inconclusive as September’s polls.
Merkel had been forced to seek an alliance with an unlikely group of parties after the ballot left her without a majority.
But following more than a month of gruelling negotiations, the leader of the pro-business FDP, Christian Lindner, walked out of talks, saying there was no “basis of trust” to forge a government with Merkel’s conservative alliance CDU-CSU and ecologist Greens.
“It is better not to govern than to govern badly”, he said, adding that the parties did not share “a common vision on modernising” Germany.
Voicing regret for the FDP’s decision, Merkel vowed to steer Germany through the crisis.
“As chancellor… I will do everything to ensure that this country comes out well through this difficult time,” she said.
The Greens’ leaders also deplored the collapse of talks, saying they had believed a deal could be done despite the differences.
The euro fell following the news, although analysts said the longer-term implications for the currency were not yet clear.
‘Failure in the air’
The negotiations, which turned increasingly acrimonious, had stumbled on a series of issues including immigration policy.
Merkel’s liberal refugee policy that let in more than a million asylum seekers since 2015 had also pushed some voters to the far-right AfD, which in September campaigned on an Islamophobic and anti-immigration platform.
The parties also differed on environmental issues, with the ecologists wanting to phase out dirty coal and combustion-engine cars, while the conservatives and FDP emphasised the need to protect industry and jobs.