The centre-left Social Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats on Friday wrapped up just over a week of three-way exploratory talks and agreed they have enough common ground to recommend moving on to full-fledged coalition negotiations.
That still requires approval by a congress of the Greens and by the Free Democrats'' leadership.
If the talks are ultimately successful, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz — the finance minister and vice chancellor in the outgoing government — will become Germany''s new leader.
Scholz pulled the Social Democrats out of a long poll slump to win Germany''s Sept. 26 election by a narrow margin.
Merkel''s Union bloc finished second, with its worst-ever share of the vote.
It is currently in turmoil, focused on digesting its defeat and finding a new leadership.
The three-way coalition now under discussion has never been tried at national level. The only politically plausible alternatives would be a government led by the Union with the Greens and Free Democrats as junior partners, or a rerun — this time led by Scholz — of Merkel''s often bad-tempered “grand coalition” of Germany''s traditional big parties.
Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005, announced in 2018 that she wouldn''t seek a fifth term. (AP) VM VM