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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.

Go deeper

34 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.