• Merkel’s conservatives hold coalition talks

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    BERLIN: Twelve days after German elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel was on Friday set to hold exploratory talks with her defeated center-left rivals on whether they can jointly govern Europe’s biggest economy.

    Although Merkel triumphed at the polls, she fell just five seats short of a majority, kicking off a process of coalition haggling and political poker that, smaller parties have warned, could drag on into next year.

    For the Social Democrats (SPD), the second ballot box bruising in a row has sparked bitter internal debate on whether to again govern in popular Merkel’s shadow, as they did in 2005-2009, or rebuild the 150-year-old party in opposition.

    Should Merkel’s conservatives and the SPD fail to agree on another left-right ‘grand coalition’, Merkel has a potential, though unlikely, Plan B—to ask the left-leaning Greens to be her junior partners.

    “I expect the SPD leadership will decide to start coalition talks,” said political scientist Oskar Niedermayer of Berlin’s Free University.

    AFP

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