German coalition talks collapse as FDP quits

German coalition talks collapse as FDP quits

Berlin, Nov 20: High-stakes talks to form a new German government collapsed as the pro-business FDP party walked out, plunging Europe`s biggest economy into a political crisis and potentially precipitating the end of Chancellor Angela Merkel`s career.
After more than a month of gruelling negotiations, Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democratic Party said there was no “basis of trust” to forge a government with Merkel`s conservative alliance CDU-CSU and ecologist Greens. “It is better not to govern than to govern badly,” said Lindner, adding that “we cannot and will not answer for the spirit of the exploratory papers”. The talks, which turned increasingly acrimonious, had stumbled on issues including the divisive matter of immigration.
Merkel`s liberal refugee policy that let in more than a million asylum seekers since 2015 had also pushed some voters to the far-right AfD, which in September elections campaigned on an Islamophobic and anti-immigration platform. With the Social Democratic Party already ruling out returning to a coalition with Merkel, and the veteran leader herself refusing a minority government, Germany would likely be forced to hold new elections.
And Merkel, in power since 2005, would face questions from within her party on whether she is still the best candidate to lead them into a new electoral campaign.
Top-selling Bild daily said earlier that a failure to forge a coalition puts “her chancellorship in danger”. A poll by Welt online also found that 61.4 percent of people surveyed said a collapse of talks would mean an end to Merkel as chancellor. Only 31.5 percent thought otherwise.Merkel had been forced to seek an alliance with the unlikely group of parties after September`s elections left her without a majority.