BERLIN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that there had been "a first contact" between her party and the Social Democrats (SPD) leadership on possible coalition negotiations but did not rule out talks with the Greens.
"We have a clear mandate to form the new government. Germany needs a stable government. We will fulfill this mission," said Merkel at a news conference in the afternoon.
"We are, of course, open for talks and I have already had initial contact with SPD chairman, who said the SPD must first hold a meeting of its leaders on Friday," she said, adding that she did not exclude talks with the Greens, the other possible partner.
Merkel also stressed that she saw no reason to change the Europe policy of her government.
Merkel's CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) proved to be the biggest winner with 41.5 percent of votes in the federal election, the official provisional result showed.
It showed that the largest opposition party the center-left SPD took 25.7 percent of votes. The Green party, the SPD's favored ally, captured 8.4 percent. The Left Party got 8.6 percent of votes.
After the election defeat, the Green party's co-chair Claudia Roth told a press conference on Monday that the entire leadership would quit at the next party congress by the end of October to make room for renewal. They include co-chairpersons Claudia Roth and Cem Oezdemir and the party council with the leading candidates Jurgen Trittin and Katrin Goering-Eckardt.
Oezdemir said in a German television interview that the difference with Merkel's CDU is "of course enormous in fields like energy policy, social policy and economic policy, but we will talk and see."
Without a majority of the parliament seats, CDU/CSU union has to find a partner to form a coalition in order to rule the Europe's largest economy for the next four years. A grand coalition with the center-left SPD as in Merkel's 2005-2009 first term seemed probable. Up to weeks of horse trading is expected for forming such a grand coalition.
Merkel's current junior coalition partner the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) party failed to retain seats in the parliament with a disappointing result of 4.8 percent, falling short of the 5-percent minimum support to enter into the parliament, official provisional result showed.
Its party leader Philipp Roesler, who served as economy minister and deputy chancellor in the coalition government, offered to step down from the party post on Monday.
TOUGH NEGOTIATIONS AHEAD
At a press conference on Monday, SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel confirmed the initial contact with the CDU concerning a possible grand coalition and that the SPD will hold a party conference to consult on the issue with its grassroots and former leaders.
He stressed that the SPD will not be influenced by tactic considerations "in coming weeks or possibly months."
"We have programs that we want to push through in the next legislative period," he said.
He also stressed that his party will not eagerly enter into a grand coalition unconditionally.
Coalition talks may prove to be tough as the two parties have differences on key domestic topics.
A particularly conflict-prone topic would be the nationwide legal minimum wage. The SPD has stressed greater social justice and reiterated the plan to introduce a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros (11.35 U.S. dollars) per hour, pointing to the fact that 7 million people earned less than the proposed minimum wage. The party also wants to raise taxes on incomes above 100,000 euros to 49 percent from 42 percent.
However, Merkel said such tax hike plans would risk spoiling the good situation in the country. German economy expanded by 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013 compared with the previous quarter, the strongest quarter-on-quarter growth since the first three months of 2012. Strong economy in Germany boosted confidence that the eurozone would be brought out of the on-going recession soon.
The CDU party rules out tax increases and supports minimum wage deals struck by employers and trade unions in different industry sectors and regions.
On handling the eurozone debt crisis, the SPD called for more solidarity measures for indebted eurozone members including Greece. In contrast, Merkel insisted on structural reforms and spending cuts by indebted countries and said it is her responsibility as chancellor to keep the reform pressure on Greece.
BERLIN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Philipp Roesler offered to step down from the post on Monday, after his party saw the worst result in its 65-year history and crashed out of parliament in Sunday's election.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel's current junior coalition partner, the pro-business FDP failed to retain seats in the parliament with a disappointing result of 4.8 percent, falling short of the 5-percent minimum support to enter into the parliament, official provisional result showed early Monday morning. Full story
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