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Greens to form coalition with Merkel's conservatives in southern German state

Talks in Stuttgart have finalized Germany's first Greens-Christian Democrats regional government. Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives will be junior partners in Baden-Württemberg's coalition.

The Green party state premier for Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, and Merkel's conservative stalwart Thomas Strobl said their seven weeks of talks resulted in a deal, adding that they would present their cabinet on Monday.

Ministers were not named on Sunday, but they said it would comprise five Greens and five conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). The line-up will be finalized by May 12, when Kretschmann is due to be inaugurated in the Stuttgart assembly.

One potential minister is Guido Wolf, who led the CDU's lackluster campaign for the elections on March 13. So too is Strobl, who is the CDU's regional chairman and one of Merkel's federal CDU vice-chairmen (pictured above (R), with Kretschmann).

The environment portfolio is likely to be retained by the 59-year-old Franz Untersteller, who recently insisted on strict practices at nuclear plants.

Despite CDU criticism, Greens Transport Minister Winfried Hermann is also tipped to retain his portfolio in the state renowned for its car industry and engineering sector.

Stolen limelight from AfD

Their announcement late Sunday stole the media limelight from the upstart populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as it concluded its weekend conference - also in Stuttgart - with an anti-Islam manifesto.

Participants at Sunday's joint Greens-CDU party talks said there was hefty criticism of the future coalition's intention to trim state government staffing, partly stemming from pay rises agreed Saturday at nationwide salary talks.

Strongest Greens showing ever

Kretschmann, 68, and his regional Greens were re-elected on March 13 with 30.3 percent. For the first time in any German regional election, the Greens emerged the strongest single party in the state.

Merkel's CDU ended up trailing on 27 percent, amid three state elections on that March election weekend that left Germany's left-wing Social Democrats with large losses in Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt.

Past coalitions between the Greens and Christian Democrats, such as the one in power in Hesse, were always led by the CDU with the Greens as junior partners.

From 2011 until its relegation into opposition in Baden-Württemberg's March election, the SPD was junior partner beneath Kretschmann's Greens. That coalition, formed in 2011, ended decades of CDU governance in Baden-Württemberg.

ipj/jr (dpa, AFP)

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