Oct 7, 2021 - World

German election: CDU leader set to step down as "traffic light" turns green

Laschet. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The chair of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) prepared to step aside today as three rival parties began coalition negotiations that will likely end with the CDU out of power for the first time since Angela Merkel was elected in 2005.

The big picture: The Greens and the liberals (FDP) — now kingmakers because either major party would need them to govern — began exploratory talks with the election-winning Social Democrats (SPD) aimed at forming a “traffic light coalition," so named because of the parties' colors.

What they're saying:

  • Armin Laschet, who led the CDU to a historic defeat, said the party should convene soon to decide on its leadership, signaling he was prepared to resign.
  • Markus Söder, leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party and a Laschet rival, said, "The FDP and the Greens have decided to go down the path of the traffic light. They must now follow it consistently."
  • But Robert Habeck, the Greens' co-leader, said a "Jamaica coalition" (CDU/Greens/FDP) was still possible: “The cookie is far from eaten."
  • His co-leader Annalena Baerbock called for a coalition in which the Greens and FDP will be “on eye level” with the SPD.

Worth noting: After the last election, FDP leader Christian Lindner let a possible Jamaica coalition burst after weeks of negotiations.

  • He received applause and criticism for his famous saying: “Better not to govern than to govern badly.”

What to watch: This will take a while. The SPD says it hopes to have a coalition by December.

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