Merkel to approach SPD, Greens if can't rule with FDP

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2012 9:07 AM
Merkel to approach SPD, Greens if can't rule with FDP

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who aims to win a third term in 2013, said on Sunday she would talk to the opposition Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) on forming a coalition if she cannot rule with her present partners the Free Democrats (FDP).

Opinion polls signal exactly such a scenario, with a survey by Emnid on Sunday showing Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) winning 38 percent of the vote and the FDP Liberals winning just 4 percent and thereby falling short of the 5 percent threshold required to win parliamentary seats.

The poll put the SPD on 28 percent and the Greens at 14 percent, leaving them similarly unable to reach a majority.

Merkel told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview she would speak to the SPD and Greens about forming a coalition as a "matter of course" if the FDP fell short.

"I'd lose all credibility if I, as a Chancellor who led a 'grand coalition' with the SPD, said I wouldn't talk to them. But I don't desire to have a 'grand coalition', rather I want to continue the Christian-Liberal government," she said.

Merkel ruled with the SPD from 2005-2009 but then formed a government in her second term with the FDP, which won a record 14.6 percent of the vote before entering a deep slump which has seen them ejected from a string of regional assemblies and now facing parliamentary extinction.

In the interview Merkel emphasized a new closeness with the Greens.

"Our relationship with the Greens has developed over the years, or you could say it has normalized," Merkel said.

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"Whereas in the past there were insurmountable differences and CDU politicians had to explain themselves if they so much as ate a pizza with the Green, today there is a different tone and conversation is uncomplicated. That pleases me," she said.

The Greens are also in turn opening up to a possible alliance with the CDU, long their political arch enemy.

An election in the state of Lower Saxony on January 20, currently ruled by a CDU-FDP coalition, will send vital signals on the state of the political landscape and will help set the tone for the election year.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Roger Atwood)