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German liberals and Social Democrats hold “constructive” coalition talks


Germany's liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Christian Lindner and Greens party co-leaders Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock deliver a statement to the media on exploratory talks for a possible new government coalition in Berlin, Germany, October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

  • FDP says talks with SDP constructive but hurdles remain
  • FDP due to meet conservatives later on Sunday
  • Centre-left SDP will also meet Greens

BERLIN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Germany's Free Democrats (FDP), potential kingmakers in negotiations to form a new coalition government, said exploratory talks with election winners the Social Democrats on Sunday were constructive but they faced hurdles to an alliance.

A close result in last Sunday's election, when no party won an overall majority, has kicked off a period of coalition talks that could last weeks or months, with the FDP and Greens courted by larger parties looking to secure a parliamentary majority.

Polls show voters favour the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who narrowly won the election, leading a coalition with the business-friendly FDP and the Greens. The FDP, however, is closer to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

"It is clear that there are hurdles," FDP General Secretary Volker Wissing said after Sunday's talks with the SPD. "But it is also clear that we are determined to build a reform-oriented government that will advance our country."

"We need a stable government that will tackle the things that haven't yet gotten done," he added.

Wissing and SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil, standing side by side, both described their talks as "constructive".

The conservatives' chancellor candidate, Armin Laschet, has said he also wants to form a government, even after his bloc of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) slumped to a record low result in the national election.

But Laschet was undermined last week when the leader of the Bavarian CSU, Markus Soeder, said the SPD - which narrowly secured the most votes - would most likely form a government.

"The CDU and CSU must clarify whether they really want to lead a government," FDP leader Christian Lindner told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The conservatives and the FDP are due to hold exploratory talks later on Sunday. The SPD is also due to meet the Greens.

The Greens would prefer the two smaller "kingmakers", which are from opposite ends of the political spectrum and at odds on a range of issues, to team up with the SPD.

Merkel, in power since 2005, plans to step down once a new government is formed and will stay on until that point.

Reporting by Paul Carrel and Maria Sheahan; editing by Andrew Heavens and Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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October 3, 2021, 5:31 pm

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