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German Greens, FDP cosy up to build coalition

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The leaders of Germany’s Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) posted a smiling selfie of themselves on Wednesday and said they were finding some common ground in preliminary talks about joining a three-way coalition after an election on Sunday.

The two parties, from opposite sides of the political spectrum and at odds on a range of major issues including finance and climate protection, are kingmakers after the vote, which was narrowly won by the Social Democrats (SPD).

Both the centre-left SPD and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc, which slumped to a record low, would need the centre-right FDP and leftist Greens as partners to get a parliamentary majority and form a coalition government.

Acknowledging their wide policy differences, the two parties agreed to sound each other out about working together before moving on to negotiations with the bigger parties.

The SPD, whose candidate for chancellor Olaf Scholz is presently finance minister in Merkel’s coalition, has said it hopes to talk to both parties this week about the possibility of forming a three-way government.

The photo of Greens leaders Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock with FDP leader Christian Lindner and General Secretary Volker Wissing appeared to send an upbeat message.

“On the search for a new government, we are looking for common ground and bridges across divisions. And even finding some,” read the caption below the photo in which they were all smiling. “Exciting times.”

In an initial sign of unity, all four posted the photo at the same time in the early hours of Wednesday on Instagram, the social media platform which is popular with the younger voters who are the key supporters of both parties.

However, neither side has tried to disguise the scale of the challenge ahead.

Asked at a news conference on Monday about any similarities between them, Baerbock quipped: “I am around the same age as Christian Lindner and he and Robert Habeck are both men.”

Photo: Annalena Baerbock, chancellor candidate of the German Greens Party, and Robert Habeck, co-leader of the German Greens Party react to initial results at the Green party (Alliance 90/The Greens) election event in Berlin, Germany. EPA-EFE/JENS SCHLUETER / POOL

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