Angela Merkel rules out fresh elections as she seeks new coalition deal

Angela Merkel rules out fresh elections as she seeks new coalition dealAngela Merkel vowed to get a government in place as soon as possible on Saturday as she recovered from a week-long crisis that threatened to force fresh German elections and could have ended her political career. In a speech to members of her party, Mrs Merkel said she wanted to avoid a re-run of September's elections, which saw her Christian Democrats reduced to 33 per cent of the vote and left her struggling to muster a coalition government in talks with a range of smaller parties. “The people voted. And I absolutely do not favor, if we can’t do anything with the result, asking people to vote again,” Mrs Merkel said at a party conference in the Baltic coast resort of Kuehlungsborn on Saturday. “Europe needs a strong Germany, so it is desirable to get a government in place quickly,” she told the party meeting. “Now it is no use to grieve things,” she told the party conference. Angela Merkel speaks with Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democrats Party (SPD) Credit:  Michele Tantussi/Getty Images Europe Negotiations between Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and smaller parties broke down in the early hours of Monday morning, triggering a week of instability that threatened to leave Germany without a government. The crisis was calmed but not entirely resolved when the Social Democrats (SPD), the main centre-left party agreed to enter coalition talks on Friday. If she proves unable to form a new coalition government, a weakened Mrs Merkel will have no choice but to either form a weakened minority government, or face new snap elections – an event party leaders fear could strengthen the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier intervened after the collapse of coalition talks  Credit:  AXEL SCHMIDT/Reuters Her comments came as a senior SPD figure hinted the party would likely approve a renewed coalition with Mrs Merkel's conservative party if she came up with "convincing" proposals. Niels Annen told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper that Germany needed to form a government quickly and that his party would not rule it out governing alongside Mrs Merkel. "Germany urgently needs a predictable and reliable government. A grand coalition could be an option and we should not exclude it," Mr Annen said. He said the SPD was focused on "what is good for the country." Martin Schulz, the leader of SPD, had previously ruled out entering into another “grand coalition” with Mrs Merkel after his party suffered its worst ever result in the federal elections in September. German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) Volker Bouffier (L), Minister President of Hesse, The Federal Green Party Chairman, Cem Ozdemir (R) on the first day of coalition talks in October Credit: FILIP SINGER/EPA He backpedaled and offered Mrs Merkel talks on Friday after a “dramatic” personal appeal from the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and mounting pressure from members of his own party who threatened to mount a leadership challenge. “We do not have a government crisis, but Germany is in a complicated situation,” Mr Schulz said on Friday. “The president made a dramatic appeal to the parties to speak again, because we cannot go straight to new elections. . . The SPD is aware of its responsibility for Germany and for Europe.” It is not yet clear whether the SPD will enter into a new coalition with Mrs Merkel, or whether it will only offer to prop up a minority government from the outside. Mr Schulz has said that any final decision on this will be put to the full party membership in a vote. “If the discussions result in us taking part in a government in any shape or form, the members will vote on it,” he said. Mrs Merkel's career as leader of her party was left in the balance after four weeks of negotiations on forming a "Jamaica coalition" – so called because the party colours match those of the Jamaican flag – broke down after a series of gruelling late-night discussions on Monday. Christian Lindner, leader of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), dramatically stormed out of the talks with Mrs Merkel’s CDU, its sister centre-right Bavarian party the CSU, and the left-leaning Greens, after midnight on Sunday, citing irreconcilable differences. Disagreements around immigration and Mrs Merkel's controversial decision to offer an "open-door" to refugees in 2015 were one of main points of contention. The outcome of the new talks is not expected until some time in the New Year.



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