Merkel, Facing Long Night, says German Coalition Talks Can Work
Talks on forming a new German coalition government "can work", Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday ahead of a long night of negotiations at which she must forge a three-way alliance or risk seeing her 12-year stint in power come to an end, reported Reuters.
Merkel, 63, is trying to form an unlikely alliance between her conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the ecologist Greens - a combination untested at national level - to allow her to govern for a fourth term as chancellor.
She wants exploratory talks on forming the coalition to end on Thursday so the would-be allies can move on to formal negotiations. But the parties remain far apart on key issues including immigration, finances and protecting the climate.
"We have very, very different positions," Merkel told reporters. "If it works - I think it can work - there can be a positive result at the end of today's negotiations. But this is a difficult task.
"I expect the negotiations will go on for hours ... I am ready to make my contribution," she added.
Merkel is under pressure from her own conservative bloc, in particular her Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), not to compromise too much to secure a coalition deal - in particular on the touchstone topic of immigration.
At stake is a plan by Merkel's conservative bloc to cap the number of people Germany will accept per year on humanitarian grounds at 200,000 - a limit the environmentalist Greens reject.
"I don't know if we can resolve all the discrepancies, all the disagreements," said Joachim Herrmann, a senior member of the CSU, sister party of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).
Jens Spahn, a senior CDU member, told the Passauer Neue Presse: "There won't be a coalition at any price."