By Ayhan Simsek
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday invited the leaders of Germany’s former coalition government to a meeting next week as the country attempts to form a fresh administration.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU); Christian Social Union (CSU) leader and Merkel’s Bavarian ally Horst Seehofer; and Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz have been asked to attend next week’s summit.
The call, in a statement from Steinmeier’s office, came after two months of failed negotiations following the Sept. 24 federal election.
The impasse has created political uncertainty within Germany, as voters contemplate a fresh election in the absence of an agreement, and across Europe.
It followed the collapse of coalition talks between the CDU/CSU, the pro-business FDP and the Greens.
'SPD aware of its responsibility'
Social Democrat leader Schulz told reporters on Friday the SPD was aware of its responsibility and would act accordingly in the coming days and weeks.
Entering talks would not necessarily mean that the SPD would become part of a coalition government, he stressed.
“If the SPD would be involved in the formation of a government, in what form or constellation, this will be voted on by the members of our party,” he added.
Earlier on Friday, the SPD announced it was open to discussions with other parties on forming a coalition.
However, the party did not say whether it had reversed its earlier opposition to a “grand coalition” with Merkel’s conservative bloc.
Schulz has so far opposed a coalition with the CDU/CSU, arguing that the election result meant voters had rejected the option of another grand coalition.
However, other SPD figures have supported a coalition or backing a minority CDU/CSU government.
Both the CDU/CSU and the SPD were severely weakened in September’s poll and many in the SPD have blamed their poor showing on the party’s membership of the previous coalition.
Although Merkel’s bloc is still the biggest group in parliament, it needs the support of either the SPD, which has the second-largest group in parliament, or two smaller parties to form a government.