Well, You Could Talk with Die Linke

Angela Merkel’s negotiations to form a government have collapsed:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged early Monday to maintain stability after the Free Democratic Party pulled out of talks on forming a new government with her conservative bloc and the left-leaning Greens, raising the possibility of new elections.

Merkel told reporters that the parties had been close to reaching a consensus on how to proceed with formal coalition talks but that the Free Democrats decided abruptly to pull out just before midnight Sunday — a move she said she respected, but found “regrettable.”

She said she would consult with Germany’s president later in the day to brief him on the negotiations and discuss what comes next.

Without bringing the Free Democrats back to the table, Merkel will be forced to try to continue her current governing coalition with the Social Democrats, although that center-left party has said it will not do so, or she could try to form a minority government, which was seen as unlikely. Otherwise Germany will have to hold new elections.

“It is at least a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany,” Merkel said. “But I will do everything possible to ensure that this country will be well led through these difficult weeks.”

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and sister Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, the pro-business Free Democrats and the left-leaning Greens had already blown past Merkel’s own deadline of Thursday to agree on a basis for opening formal negotiations on a coalition of all four parties, a configuration that has never been tried at a national level in Germany.

Key sticking points were the issues of migration and climate change.

Among other things the Greens were pushing for Germany to end its use of coal and combustion engines by 2030, though they had signaled they were open to some compromise.

Assuming that the SDP is true to its word when it says that it won’t join the coalition, and the fact that no one wants to make a coalition with the 3rd place AfD is a group of fascist bigots, there are not a whole bunch of options for Merkel.

One option is to enter into negotiations with Die Linke (The Left) party as well as the Greens.

That would put them over the critical 50%.

Of course, the many of the policies of Die Linke are an anathema to Merkel and the CDU, and the fact that it is technically the successor party of the East German Communists from East Germany presents an optics problem.

Still, opening up a dialogue with Die Linke would also put a lot of pressure on the FDP to return to the table.

So, it’s not going to happen, even though it might make sense, because it’s simply inconceivable given the norms of German political orthodoxy.

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