Talks on forming German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s next government collapsed, throwing the future of Europe’s longest-serving leader into doubt and potentially pointing the world’s fourth-biggest economy toward new elections.
After a 12-hour negotiating session that ended shortly before midnight Sunday, the pro-market Free Democratic Party walked out of the exploratory talks, saying differences with the environmentalist Green party were too great to bridge. Merkel has tried for a month to enlist the two smaller parties for her fourth-term coalition.
“It’s better not to govern than to govern badly,” FDP head Christian Lindner said. No further talks were scheduled, he said. There was no immediate comment from Merkel.
After 12 years in office that made her Europe’s anchor of stability in times of crisis, Merkel failed to stitch together an alliance that’s never been tried at the national level. While the breakdown leaves Merkel in charge in a caretaker role, her options for staying in power for another four years have significantly narrowed.
Possibilities include setting up a minority government headed by her Christian Democratic-led bloc or asking Germany’s president to order a national election just months after the last one in September. Both scenarios would be uncharted territory for Germany, which has had only eight chancellors in the seven decades since World War II.
(Rainer Buergin contributed to this report.)
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