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Germany

Minority government in the wings in key German state

Germany's Social Democrats and the Green Party are confident they will quickly agree on a minority government in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Coalition talks begin Tuesday, a good six weeks after the election.

Hannelore Kraft (l) with Sylvia Loehrmann, the Green parliamentary leader in NRW

The SPD and Greens are ready for the risky business of a minority government in NRW

The Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany's industrial heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) expect a rapid resolution of outstanding issues with their prospective coalition partner, the Greens, to form a minority government after inconclusive state elections in May.

"I think that the chances are good that we will come to a quick and solid agreement," said Michael Groschek, the SPD's general-secretary for its state party organization in NRW.

Groschek said that initial feelers put out to test the waters showed that both parties shared a lot of common ground.

Delegates from the SPD and Greens are scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon in the state capital, Duesseldorf, to officially launch coalition talks.

If all goes well, the two parties hope to give their blessing to a coalition agreement by early July and elect the SPD's NRW party leader Hannelore Kraft as state premier in mid-July.

Merkel's CDU suffered a big defeat in May

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and its junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats, were defeated in NRW's state election on May 9, but no party had enough votes to form a stable government.

The politically risky plan to form a minority SPD-Green government will depend on defections from the CDU or FDP, or the tacit approval of the Left party, to get legislation approved.

A minority coalition in NRW will also alter the political balance in the Bundesrat, Germany's upper house of parliament, making life more difficult for the CDU-FDP federal government in Berlin.

Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa/AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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