Germany's Merkel Faces Pressure for Quick Coalition Talks

Leader of the Social Democrats Martin Schulz leaves after talks with German President Frank Walter Steinmeier in Berlin Germany

Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz had vowed to go into opposition after a disappointing showing in September's general election, but in a U-turn on Friday said he was ready for talks with Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU bloc.

The parties' leaders will meet at Steinmeier's official residence in Berlin to discuss "the situation after the breakdown of the coalition talks".

Electoral losses for the CDU and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) forced Merkel's conservative bloc to attempt to build an untried national coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens - but those talks collapsed last week.

The youth section of Merkel's conservatives pressurised parties to finalise a deal by Christmas and said if the SPD disagreed then conservatives should pursue a minority government.

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The embattled Chancellor spoke out against holding another election, saying she meant to form a government as soon as possible.

She has to keep Bavaria's CSU on board by sticking to a tougher migrant policy that may also help win back conservatives who switched to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). "There will not be a grand coalition at any price", he said.

An Emnid survey for the Bild newspaper yesterday showed that 52% of Germans were in favour of a repeat grand coalition.

Seehofer said the SPD must not set too many conditions.

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With Germany's political map in flux, her aversion to governing without a parliamentary majority and the SPD's refusal to be her junior partner for a third time may both be negotiable.

A breakthrough could come on Thursday, when President Frank-Walter Steinmeier hosts talks between Merkel, Seehofer, and Schulz.

Schulz had previously ruled out entering into another "grand coalition" with Merkel after his party suffered its worst ever result in the federal elections in September.

Mr Lindner told reporters: "It is better not to govern than to govern badly".

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