Merkel Faces Crucial Deadline on Coalition Talks
The German parties hoping to form a new government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel face a make-or-break deadline Thursday, when they will either agree to pursue a tricky three-way coalition -- or risk a snap election, AFP reports.
After weeks of quarrelsome exploratory talks, Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the left-leaning Greens are to announce whether they have found enough common ground to begin formal coalition negotiations.
The awkward bedfellows, who differ on everything from refugees to climate protection and EU reforms, have been pushed together by September's inconclusive election, which left Merkel badly weakened as the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) lured away millions of voters.
Merkel, eyeing a fourth term as chancellor, gave the coalition hopefuls until November 16 to reach an agreement in principle, with the goal of having a new government in place by Christmas.
"If the conservatives, the Greens and the FDP can't pull together, there's no way to avoid new elections," Der Spiegel news weekly wrote.
"No one wants that. But is that enough to justify an alliance?"
The potential tie-up, dubbed a "Jamaica coalition" because the parties' colours match those of the Jamaican flag, is untested at the national level and how stable such a government would be is anyone's guess.
The final round of pre-coalition talks is expected to run late into the night as party officials tackle thorny outstanding issues, including migration.
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