Nearly two months after the general election, Germany has been plunged into political uncertainty after attempts to form a coalition government collapsed. There is now a distinct possibility that the country could face another election.
An exhausted-looking Merkel addressed reporters in the early hours of Monday morning (Nov.20) to confirm that the coalition discussions between the three parties—her Christian Democrats (CDU), the Greens, and the Free Democrats (FDP)—had failed.
“We believe we were on a path where we could have reached an agreement, of course, with limitations,” the chancellor said. She said she would speak with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier about the next steps, adding that today would be a day for “profound reflection.”
“As chancellor, as caretaker chancellor, I will do everything to make sure this country will be well-governed through the difficult weeks ahead,” Merkel said.
The fractious three-way talks had gone on for over a month since a disappointing result in September’s general election left Merkel trying to bring together the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats to form a majority government.
The parties worked through the weekend to try and iron out big policy disagreements on the environment and immigration. Late Sunday night, FDP leader Christian Lindner walked out of the negotiations, declaring that it was “better not to govern than to govern badly.”
The parties’ inability to agree to form a government leaves Germany in a state of political turmoil. Merkel’s options are severely limited: she could form a minority government or the country could face a fresh election. Either option bodes badly for Europe’s longest-serving leader.