Brussels (Brussels Morning) The three German parties that have been engaged in exploratory talks throughout the week have agreed to enter formal negotiations about forming a coalition, making the so-called “traffic light” coalition increasingly likely.
The leaders of the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) are to all recommend that their members support moving into formal talks next week, SPD chancellor-candidate Olaf Scholz is optimistic that a new cabinet could be sworn in by end of this year.
“A new start is possible with the three parties coming together”, Scholz said at a news conference today. FDP head Christian Lindner was similarly optimistic, saying that such a move represents an “opportunity”, and that the chance of a possible coalition could be “greater than the sum of its parts”.
Despite the leadership optimism, the coalition talks are unlikely to be easy, with the business-friendly FDP considered apt to clash on a number of policies with the SPD, which is bent on increasing social spending, and with the Greens, which seek urgent action on climate change. Moreover, Germany has never experienced a three-party coalition federal government, although such an arrangement is relatively common in individual German states.
Most recent polls indicate the potential coalition – dubbed the ‘traffic light’ because of the three parties’ respective colours – enjoys the most public support among voters. While departing Chancellor Angela Merkel enjoyed significant support, the majority of Germans now want to see her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), enter the opposition.
According to a Forschungsgruppe Wahlen survey conducted for the ZDF broadcaster, up to 62% of voters would back the traffic light coalition. Scholz, currently serving the last of his term as vice chancellor and finance minister in the Merkel cabinet, is looked upon even more favourably, being preferred by nearly three quarters of German voters as their next chancellor.