German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democrats delivers a speech during a meeting oh her party's youth wing in Dresden, eastern Germany, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (Monika Skolimowska/dpa via AP)
Saturday, October 07, 2017 10:19 am
Merkel supports German coalition with Greens, Free Democrats
DAVID RISING | Associated Press
BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel lobbied party members Saturday to stand behind efforts to build a new coalition with the Free Democratic Party and Greens, saying it's the best suited to govern the country.
Speaking in Dresden to her party's youth wing, Merkel said she will hold talks with the pro-business FDP and the left-leaning Greens and then present her Christian Democratic Union with a coalition proposal for approval.
She dismissed the only other realistic option, continuing her current coalition with the Social Democratic Party.
"It is apparent that the SPD is not in the position to govern at the federal level for the foreseeable future, therefore I advise all of us not to waste further time on it," she said.
The Social Democrats came second in the Sept. 24 election with 20.5 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent for Merkel's conservative bloc. Party leaders immediately said they would not seek another coalition with Merkel and would instead go into opposition.
A coalition between Merkel's conservatives and the FDP and Greens, called a "Jamaica" coalition because the parties' colors match those of the Caribbean nation's flag, hasn't been tried before in a national German government.
Still, Merkel said she was confident she could build a coalition that would govern effectively "so that in four years we can say we're better off now than we were in 2017."
Before that, Merkel's first challenge is ironing out differences between her party and its Bavarian-only sister Christian Social Union party, which has been pushing for a yearly cap on migrants in response to the flood of more than 1 million asylum seekers in the past two years.
Merkel, who is to hold talks Sunday with CSU party leaders, told the crowd she believes German asylum law allows for no cap but will work for an agreement with the sister party.
She acknowledged concerns from questioners about how Germany will integrate so many predominantly Muslim migrants, saying that progress was being made but more needed to be done.
Among other things, she said it was critical to provide more support for day care centers, school and universities which are often the closest contact to the new arrivals, to ensure they can properly teach German and European values to people from very different backgrounds.
"We are doing a lot, but it will still take a while," she said.