German president urges parties to compromise, end crisis

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged political parties Monday to rethink their positions and find compromises to form a government, hours after coalition talks collapsed and plunged Germany into a crisis. “Building a government has always been a difficult process of give and take, but the mandate to form a government is perhaps the highest mandate given by voters to a party in a democracy. And this mandate remains,” said Steinmeier.

“This is the moment where all participants need to reconsider their attitude,” he added. Germany’s president has the power to call snap elections, but Steinmeier made clear that this was not his favored option. “I expect all parties to make themselves available for talks to build a government in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Steinmeier said he would hold talks with leaders of the parties involved in the failed coalition negotiations Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative alliance, the Greens, and the pro-business FDP, who ended the negotiations.

He would also speak with “chairs of parties which have program overlaps that do not rule out forming a government”, a reference to the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD). The SPD, after suffering a humiliating thrashing at September’s polls, has repeatedly said its place is in opposition rather than to renew an alliance as junior coalition partner under Merkel.

Minutes before Steinmeier’s statement, SPD chairman Martin Schulz had reiterated that his party was “not available to form a new grand coalition” with Merkel’s conservative bloc.

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