German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is not ruling out leading a grand coalition government after the election. This comes amid doubts about whether her current partners will make it into the Bundestag.
Speaking in an interview published in this Saturday's edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, Chancellor Merkel said that she expected the election to be "very tight" and that to rule out a grand coalition of her Christian Democrats (CDU) with the Social Democrats (SPD) would be "completely implausible."
At the same time, though, the chancellor said nobody was working towards a grand coalition and that it would be better for Germany if the CDU was able to continue governing with its current junior partners, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).
An opinion poll conducted for ARD public television this week gave the CDU and FDP a combined 47 percent, compared to 37 percent for the Social Democrats and their preferred coalition partners, the Greens. However, the FDP was only on five percent support, which is the threshold required for a party to send deputies to the Bundestag. If the FDP fails to clear this hurdle or if the two parties combined don't have the necessary majority, Chancellor Merkel could be forced to look for another coalition partner.
Merkel already led one grand coalition after the 2005 election, in which her Social Democrat challenger for the chancellery, Peer Steinbrück, was finance minister.
Steinbrück, though, has ruled out taking his party into another grand coalition.
"We experienced this between 2005 and 2009," Steinbrück said in the Saturday edition of the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper. "The overwhelming majority of (party) members and parliamentarians simply don't want a repeat," he added.
Steinbrück also indicated that joining a grand coalition might not be in the party's best political interests in the longer term, saying that although the SPD had been a "confident partner with a strong profile," the party slipped to 23 percent support in the 2009 election.
German voters are to go to the polls in a general election on September 22.
pfd/tj (dpa, AFP)