U.S. Markets

Merkel's conservatives warned not to close off coalition options

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance should avoid making big policy commitments before they start coalition negotiations, potential junior government partners said on Thursday.

Slideshow ( 4 images )

Germany is set for months of uncertainty after Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance won a fourth term in Sunday’s election but bled support to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The Christian Social Union (CSU), Merkel’s party’s Bavarian ally, has signaled it wants a rightward shift, to focus on security and setting a limit on immigration numbers to dampen the appeal of the AfD, a policy firmly opposed by the Greens.

This could complicate Merkel’s hopes of building a three-way coalition between the conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the pro-immigration, environmentalist Greens.

“Nobody should set out maximal demands that could already be seen as ruling it (such a coalition) out,” Greens leader Cem Ozdemir told the Funke newspaper group.

Related Coverage

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and will meet with the CSU on Oct. 8 to seek a common position ahead of negotiations with the other parties.

The FDP also warned against making commitments that would undermine coalition prospects.

“Even if there’s no guarantee of success, it would be wrong to pull down the shutters this early,” party general secretary Nicola Beer told the RND newspaper alliance.

Little movement on a coalition is expected before an Oct. 15 vote in the western state of Lower Saxony, currently ruled by the Social Democrats (SPD) - who have said they will go into opposition at the national level - and the Greens.

Leading economic institutes said on Thursday that the next government can count on record budget surpluses over the next two years due to a solid upswing, potentially facilitating Merkel’s task of building a coalition.

Reporting by Joern Poltz in Munich and Thorsten Severin in Berlin; Writing by Madeline Chambers and Thomas Escritt; Editing by Gareth Jones and Robin Pomeroy