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German government hopefuls wrap up 1st round of talks

German government hopefuls wrap up 1st round of talks

BERLIN (AP) — The parties that hope for a share of power in Germany’s next government are wrapping up a first set of meetings to sound out each others’ positions and figure out who will try to form a coalition.

A delegation from outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc plans to meet Tuesday with the environmentalist Greens.

Early Newspaper

The Union’s only hope of keeping the top job after Armin Laschet led it to its worst-ever result in the Sept. 26 parliamentary election is a coalition with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats.

Those two parties already held separate meetings Sunday with the center-left Social Democrats of outgoing Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who narrowly won the election. The Union has met the Free Democrats.

Negotiators have said little of substance about the talks, with all vowing to keep their conversations confidential after Merkel’s attempt four years ago to form a coalition with the Free Democrats and Greens bogged down in details and leaks.

The Free Democrats eventually pulled the plug on the 2017 talks, paving the way for a rerun of the “grand coalition” of the Union and Social Democrats — Germany’s traditional big parties — which has run the country for 12 of Merkel’s 16 years in power.

A repeat of that often bad-tempered alliance, this time under Scholz, is mathematically possible this time as well, but no one wants it.

It remains to be seen how the coalition-building effort will proceed after Tuesday’s meeting.

Either the Greens, who traditionally lean left, or the Free Democrats, who have tended to ally with the Union, face the choice of deciding whether to negotiate with a party from another ideological camp. And questions have been raised about whether the Union is currently willing or able to lead a new government.

German government hopefuls wrap up 1st round of talks