The clock is ticking on Angela Merkel as she struggles to negotiate a coalition and form a government. Germany has been without a formal governing body since September.
TIMELINE OF POLITICAL EVENTS FROM ELECTION DAY ONWARDS
24th – Election Day
As the “Elephants Roundtable” draws to a close, Merkel is asked if she thinks she will have formed a government by Christmas. She says she is generally always confident, however ‘power lies in tranquillity’.
Martin Schulz expresses disappointment at the Social Democrats (SPD) performance, the worst post-war finish for his party. The party leader vows to head into the opposition and abandons the “grand coalition” with Merkel that has governed the country for eight years out of the previous twelve.
Merkel is left with a multilateral combination of her Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) bloc, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens (known as the ‘Jamaica Coalition due to the parties’ colours resembling the flag of Jamaica) as her only viable coalition option.
It is noted by the party leaders and media that a coalition between parties with such huge ideological differences has a slim chance of working.
Merkel insists she is still open to talks with the SPD.
After surging into parliament, the far-right Alternative for Germany’s (AFD) leader, Frauke Petry, quits, exposing deep divisions within the party.
Merkel finds coalition talks are made harder by the CDU’s sister party, the CSU. The CSU demands that there is a cap on the number of refugees granted asylum in Germany each year, known as ‘Obergrenze’. Merkel, the FDP and Greens are vehemently opposed to this.
It is announced that Wolfgang Schauble will step down as German finance minister after eight, often controversial, years to become president of the national parliament after Merkel asked him to. This is a watershed moment in German politics.
The Forsa poll finds that 57% of Germans support the idea of the Jamaica Coalition.
The ex-AfD leader, Petry, is charged with perjury as she is accused of lying under oath about campaign finances.
The parties cannot agree on the seating order in the newly elected parliament as no one wants to sit next to the AfD.
AfD say they will sue Petry over data theft as it is claimed she stole contact details of party members. They are worried she will try to use them to form a new party.
Merkel agrees to a soft refugee cap which would limit the number of new arrivals to 200’000 in a bid to appease the CSU and move coalition talks forward. However, this move does not sit well with the Greens who said the move is “far” from what they expected.
The SPD score a much-needed victory in a regional election winning 37.3% of the vote in Lower Saxony, Germany’s fourth most populous state, beating the CDU by 4%.
Merkel starts pre-coalition talks sitting down separately with the Liberals and Greens, setting the deadline of 16th November for formal negotiations to begin.
The Greens and FDP clash on migration issues as the FDP takes a much harder line on the Green’s immigration plan. In particular, the Greens support for family reunification for refugees. According to new figures 1.6 million people sought asylum in Germany by the end of 2016, an increase of 113% compared to 2014. Roughly half the asylum seekers registered came from Syria (455’000), Afghanistan (191’000) and Iraq (156’000). Close to two-thirds were men.
Green party leaders dropped their insistence that Germany ban new fossil-fuel powered vehicles by 2030 as well as the country switching off its remaining coal-burning power plants by that year in a bid to compromise as pre-coalition talks drag on.
The deadline to wrap up the talks comes and goes as the Jamaica coalition remain divided over migration, climate change, Europe and taxes.
A new deadline of Sunday 19th November 6pm is set for the parties to reach a preliminary agreement.
Talks collapse making another election look likely.
Schulz stands firm on his rejection of another coalition in favour of a snap election.
Merkel is left with the option to form a minority government with either the Greens or FPD. However this has never been tested at a national level in Germany for an entire term and would be far from ideal for the chancellor, forcing her to gather support from opposition MP’s to pass laws.
Schulz is under pressure to reconsider a coalition with Merkel. The party leader faces a backlash from within the SPD if he rejects a new grand coalition.
Schulz is re-elected SPD party leader with 82% of the vote. He was the sole candidate.
Schulz green lights new talks with Merkel, putting his vision of a federal Europe top of the agenda for government discussions. Schulz wants a United States of Europe by 2025.
Merkel and Schulz agree to wrap up initial talks by mid-January. The SPD will decide later in the month whether to move forward with formal coalition negotiations.
Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, attends CSU party summit at former monastery in Bavaria. The CSU feted Hungary’s hard-line leader as the guardian of the EU’s external borders at another summit – a direct rebuke of Merkel and her open-border policy.
The CDU and SPD are expected to come to an agreement this week to form another grand coalition.
The would-be coalition agree that reducing the country’s emissions by 2020 – a goal that Merkel promised to achieve as part of her election campaign – is impossible to acheive and set 2030 as the new target.
Progress appears to have been made with draft documents showing that the coalition have drawn up rules to attract skilled immigrants, agreed to support cleaner combustion engines and approved some tax measures. Talks are due to end today with the decision to move forward to formal negotiations hanging in the balance. The parties still have to discuss euro zone reform and family reunification for migrants.
Germany wakes up to the news that, after 24 hours of gruelling discussion, the CDU, CSU and SPD have achieved a breakthrough and formal talks are thought to be able to start once the SPD confirms next week.
The parties were able to agree on a return to equal pay contributions for health insurance and tight rules for family reunification for refugees.
Sticking points were the top tax rate although no increase has been cited in the exploratory paper, even though the SPD were pushing for it.
It looks as though pre-negotiations will now lead to formal talks, however this needs to be confirmed by the SPD at a special party conference in Bonn on 21st January.