Germany’s two biggest political parties — the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) — announced on Friday morning that they had made a breakthrough in their exploratory talks, paving the way to formal coalition negotiations and, if all goes to plan, another iteration of the grand coalition.
The new agreement represents an important stage victory in the marathon negotiations for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who would certainly prefer a grand coalition to the other two options currently on the table: heading an unstable minority government, or a new election.
Should the negotiations with the SPD fail, a new election could well usher in the end of Merkel’s time in office, as her CDU attempts to revive its fortunes following its worst election results ever.
Her party took 32.9 percent in September’s election, a drop of 8.6 percentage points on the 2013 result.
This has resulted in much self-reflection in the party, along with speculation that Merkel’s era was drawing to a close — and even debate about potential successors.