German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday announced her failure to form a three-way coalition government with the Free Democrats and the Greens, which could mean either a minority coalition government or new elections in the European Union’s most dominant member, Reuters reported.
Merkel plans to continue in her role as acting chancellor while conferring with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as to the next step.
“It is a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany,” Merkel said at a press conference. “As chancellor, I will do everything to ensure that this country is well-managed in the difficult weeks to come.”
The risks of a new election include the further growth of the right-to-far right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which in the September 24 German federal elections has won 12.6% of the vote and received 94 seats – the first time the party that had been formed in 2013 had won seats in Parliament.
The AfD focuses on German nationalism, reclaiming Germany’s sovereignty and national pride, and rejecting the sense of national shame over Germany’s Nazi past. One of the founders of AfD, Björn Höcke, in January 2017 stated: “We Germans are the only people in the world who have planted a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital,” and suggested Germans “need to make a 180 degree change in their politics of commemoration.”
According to Reuters, Immigration was the issue that brought down the coalition negotiations, as members and allies of Merkel’s own Christian Democrats (CDU) were demanding a cap on asylum seekers Germany would absorb annually – a move the Greens would not support. Another immigration-related issue was the conservatives’ support for a limit on family members of asylum seekers being allowed into Germany. Merkel was unable to reach a compromise between her own party’s right flank and the Greens on these issues.
A politically unstable Germany could have serious ramifications for the European Union. The euro fell to a two-month low against the yen after the FDP withdrew from the coalition talks.