Angela Merkel began the tough task of trying to build a government after securing a fourth term as German chancellor, urging the center-left Social Democrats not to shut the door on a re-run of their “grand coalition”, Reuters reports.
Damaged by her decision two years ago to allow more than one million migrants into Germany, Merkel’s conservative bloc secured 33 percent of the vote, losing 8.5 points, in Sunday’s general election.
Her coalition partners, the center-left Social Democrats, also slumped and said they will go into opposition.
Voters flocked to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), the first far-right party to enter the German parliament in more than half a century.
Many Germans see the rise of the AfD as a similar rejection of the status quo as votes for Brexit and Donald Trump last year.
But Germany’s political center held up better than in Britain and the United States as more voters have benefited from globalization and most shun the country’s extremist past.
Merkel’s party remained the biggest parliamentary bloc and Europe’s most powerful leader sought to keep her coalition options open on Monday, saying she would start talks with the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens as well as the SPD.
SPD leader Martin Schulz said earlier his party had no choice but to go into opposition “to defend democracy against those who question it and attack it”, after dropping to a post-war low of 20.5 percent.
“I heard the SPD’s words, nevertheless we should remain in contact,” Merkel told a news conference. “I think all parties have a responsibility to ensure that there will be a stable government.”
Merkel made clear she still intends to serve a full four years as chancellor.
But her next coalition could be her toughest yet with her only remaining potential partners, the business-friendly FDP and the pro-regulation Greens, at odds on issues from migrants to tax, the environment and Europe, Reuters noted.
The FDP’s leader Christian Lindner set the stage for tricky talks, saying his party will not agree to a coalition with the conservatives and the Greens at any price.
The Greens set out climate change, Europe and social justice as their priorities in any coalition talks.
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