Tiny steps towards a new German government?

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?

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Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Divisions within Europe reflected

If it does come to a grand coalition Merkel will be forced to do the splits with her Europe policy, Magyar Nemzet comments:

“There are only two major positions in the current exploratory talks: that of the CSU and that of the SPD. While the CSU is entirely aligned with the states of Central Eastern Europe regarding the future of the EU, the SPD is more aligned with Paris. ... Of course Merkel also knows that new power relations have formed within the Union. The ideas of Emmanuel Macron and Viktor Orbán, for example, couldn't be more different. This difference of opinions would also be reflected in a new government made up of the SPD and CSU. And Merkel would have to calm the waves not only in Europe, but also within her own government.”

The Economist (GB) /

Failed talks could spell the end of Merkel

Chancellor Merkel's future is at stake in the exploratory talks between the CDU and the SPD, Jeremy Cliffe writes in his blog with The Economist:

“If the GroKo talks break down Mrs Merkel will face a choice between forming a minority government and holding new elections ... Failed talks may even spell the end of Mrs Merkel, who seems to seek a fourth term more out of a sense of duty to the country than out of enthusiasm. If the SPD's resistance to another identity- and vote-sapping turn with the chancellor forces the country back to the urns, she may conclude that she has become an impediment to Germany's dearly-cherished stability, and make her exit.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

This way EU reform could succeed

A new grand coalition government could have a lasting impact on Germany's EU policy, Ilta-Sanomat suspects:

“Martin Schulz's ideas on the EU and on the EMU [Economic and Monetary Union] are even more federalist than Macron's. ... Even if the coalition talks cancel out half of Schulz's visions he may still manage to lead Germany towards a far softer EU and EMU policy. ... If Germany supported the reforms propagated by France these could become reality with surprising speed. That could mean economic burdens and risks are distributed more evenly among the member states. Whether more joint responsibility for the member states is an advantage or a disadvantage remains to be seen. But one thing's for sure: if Germany and France want more shared responsibility that's what they'll get.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Europe waiting for Germany

Handelsblatt finds it worrying that Germany still hasn't got a new government, particularly in view of the tasks facing the EU in 2018:

“So far the chancellor hasn't come up with anything revolutionary on the future financing of the EU. In February Merkel will still not be able to have a say on this because her new government won't be up and running by then. Things are moving very quickly in the EU this spring. As early as this June important decisions are to be made on the reform of the monetary union and modernising European asylum law. If the biggest member state doesn't have a government in place very soon, all this won't succeed. Europe is waiting for Germany.”

Kurier (AT) /

Few arguments against a grand coalition

The German media that are announcing the end of the Merkel era have failed to grasp the reality of the situation, Kurier writes:

“The two periods in which Merkel governed with grand coalitions were marked by the weathering of the major crisis (2005-2009) and the new economic miracle (2013-2017). During these periods Germany fared better than ever according to all the parameters, despite - or perhaps precisely because of the caution that Merkel is often criticised for. Only the refugee crisis worked against her in the last elections. Hence: apart from the SPD's erratic party chairman and the short outburst of chest-thumping on the part of the flagging CSU, there's really not much to indicate that Merkel wouldn't succeed with a new grand coalition. Regardless of what the media may have to say on the matter.”