BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats on Monday became the last of three parties to back the start of formal coalition talks on forming a new government.
The Free Democrats leader, Christian Lindner, said the party’s national executive unanimously agreed to take the step following weeks of informal talks with the center-left Social Democrats and the environmentalist Greens.
Lindner said the three parties hadn’t sought each other out ahead of the Sept. 26 election, “to put it diplomatically.”
“It’s also no surprise that there are big differences on matters of substance,” he said, adding that those involved would need show “a lot of tolerance and willingness to think anew. Therein lies a chance, though, to do good things for our country.”
Lindner’s party has a strong free market ideology that contrasts with that of the Social Democrats who came first in last month’s election before outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Union bloc.
The Greens, who came third ahead of the Free Democrats, likewise tend to be skeptical of market-driven approaches particularly when it comes to tackling climate change.
Still, a preliminary agreement drafted following the initial exploratory talks showed consensus accelerating Germany’s exit from coal-fueled power, currently due by 2038, so it “ideally” happens by 2030. At the same time, the parties agreed not to impose a general speed limit on Germany’s highways, a simple way to cut greenhouse gas emissions that the Free Democrats had nevertheless opposed.
The largely harmonious talks showed the first signs of friction over the weekend, however, amid signs that both the Greens and the Free Democrats will seek control of the powerful finance ministry.
Lindner sought to play down any discord, insisting that he felt “the same positive vibes” as on Friday.
Follow AP’s coverage of Germany’s transition to a new government at https://apnews.com/hub/germany-election