October 15, 2017 / 12:44 PM / a year ago

Factbox - German coalition watch: Agreeing on lowest common denominator not enough-Greens

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office in the German national election on Sept. 24, but a fractured vote that brings the far-right into parliament means she must try to work out a three-way coalition untested at federal level.

The new alliance would comprise Merkel’s conservative bloc - her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) - along with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and environmentalist Greens.

Such a tie-up is called a “Jamaica” coalition, because the three parties’ colours of black, yellow and green match those of the Jamaican flag.

To secure a coalition agreement, the unlikely bedfellows must overcome differences on a range of issues including immigration policy, Europe, tax and the environment.

The CDU and CSU have reached an agreement over immigration policy, but it is not clear whether it will pass muster in a full coalition.

Following are remarks on the possible coalition from senior officials:


“We achieved a joint result (with the Bavarian CSU allies) which I think is a very, very good basis to go into exploratory talks with the FDP and Greens.”

“On Friday, October 20th, we will have a first round of exploratory talks with all partners.”

“The parties come from very different starting positions. There will be discussions in a lot of policy areas with the FDP and the Greens.”

“We know that unusual combinations can, of course, bring the opportunity to find some solutions to things that had seemed unsolvable until now. So now we need to put our noses to the grindstone and see what we can do.”


“We’d be well advised not to be perfectionists in the upcoming coalition negotiations but rather to be open and to build trust that a government will be formed that acts sensibly, even during unforeseeable crises.”


“Thoroughness is certainly more important than speed, but I’m optimistic that everything will be sorted out by Christmas. All four parties are showing goodwill and the will of the voters is clear too: ‘Jamaica’ should be formed.”


“We all need to just get started now.”

“Compromises always mean everyone needs to give a bit.”

“If the coalition comes off, it must not be a coalition that only agrees on the lowest common denominator. That won’t work.”


“We don’t have to govern. There is also the possibility of another grand coalition (between Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats).”


“It can succeed. The most important thing is that trust needs to be built between participants, and that takes time. That’s why it would be illusory to believe we could conclude negotiations by Christmas.”


“No one would understand it if the new government does not pass an immigration law.”

“We need a mix of humanity and order. We Greens also want to secure the EU’s external borders and build a sensible database of fingerprints.”

“There must be a compromise that nonetheless represents everyone.”


“This is an agreement between the CDU and CSU, and far from the result of exploratory talks for a coalition with the FDP and Greens.”


“Immigration is not the only issue where the parties have different ideas.”


“I am certain that, in the end, the solution that the CDU/CSU have found with each other will not be the basis for common work (with us) for the next four years.”


“No party can expect the others to accept its original wording without changes ... But I believe that a signal about limiting immigration on humanitarian grounds will ultimately make its way into the coalition agreement.”


“Europe’s fiscal policy needs a shift away from austerity toward a common pact for tax collection and investments, which would trigger social and ecological innovations.”


“A red line for us in coalition talks is the mutualisation of debt in Europe, the creation of new pots of money.”


“What we Christian Democrats call ‘preservation of Creation’ overlaps a lot with what the Greens call a sustainable approach to nature.”


“A misunderstanding on the part of the chancellor must be cleared up before the exploratory talks begin: We Greens are resolutely against the driving bans of which there is a risk due to the lack of action and ignorance of her Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, Germany’s most incompetent minister.”


“There can only be a Jamaica tax concept if it includes the end of the solidarity surcharge without taking that money out of people’s pockets somewhere else.”

Compiled by Berlin bureau, Editing by Kevin Liffey and Louise Heavens

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