(© picture-alliance/dpa)

  Germany after the elections

  10 Debates

In Germany the way is now clear for a new grand coalition. 66 percent of the SPD party members who cast their ballots voted in favour of the coalition agreement with the CDU and the CSU. The upshot: Angela Merkel can be voted in as chancellor again on March 14. Commentators assess whether this will improve the chances of far-reaching EU reforms.

"A new start for Europe" is part of the title of Germany's coalition agreement, and the first stop for the newly sworn-in German chancellor and her foreign minister is France, where Macron's EU reform proposals will be discussed. But despite all the optimism journalists remain unconvinced.

Since Tuesday members of Germany's SPD can vote on whether their party should take part in a new grand coalition government. The result of the vote will be known on March 4. While the party leadership hopes to get a green light for four more years as junior government partner young Social Democrats in particular oppose the move. Europe's press is watching the developments with interest - but not always with understanding.

The SPD and the CDU/CSU will once again negotiate the possibility of a grand coalition. 56 percent of SPD party conference participants voted in favour - against the opposition of many party members who reject the idea of forming another ruling coalition with Merkel's conservatives. Europe's press asks whether the decision is cause for relief.

In Germany the conservatives and the SPD began exploratory talks for forming a new government on Sunday. But according to polls only 45 percent of the population backs the idea of a new grand coalition. What would a new grand coalition government mean for the country - and what will happen if the talks fail?

After the German elections several foreign heads of state and government congratulated Chancellor Merkel on her conservatives' victory and stressed their willingness to cooperate. But in view of the changes in Germany's domestic political situation commentators express concern for Europe's stability.

The talks between the conservatives, liberals and Greens for the formation of a new governing coalition have dragged on for several weeks now. The main bones of contention are climate protection and migration policy. Some say more attention should be paid to European policy aspects in the talks.

A right-wing populist party will enter the German Bundestag for the first time. With 12.6 percent of the vote, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) was the third-strongest force in the elections on September 24. Journalists speculate on what this will mean for German politics and ask who is responsible for the right-wing party's strong showing.

The leaders of the CDU/CSU and the SPD met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday evening to discuss the possibilities for forming a coalition government. It remains unclear which direction the quest for a new government will take now. Commentators see the stalemate in Berlin as proof of the German parties' adherence to their principles and hope that the new government will seek stronger ties with its EU partners.