Europe’s economic powerhouse has been mired in uncertainty since Merkel’s conservative bloc won a September 24th vote but without a clear majority, leaving it unclear whether it would be able to continue to rule.
“We won’t be obstructionist for the sake of being obstructionist,” said SPD leader Martin Schulz, dropping his earlier categorical rejection to a governing alliance with Merkel.
But he also cautioned that there was “no automatic path” to a solution – which could take the form of a new coalition, or of cooperating as Merkel runs a minority government – and that SPD rank-and-file members would have to approve any decision.
The setbacks Merkel’s bloc suffered in the September election were in part due to the rise of the far-right, anti-immigration AfD which took millions of votes from all mainstream parties.
Merkel has since the vote failed to find coalition partners to govern the EU’s largest economy for her fourth term.
The centre-left SPD – Merkel’s former junior coalition allies – vowed to go into opposition immediately after the election in which they scored a dismal result.
However, Merkel’s talks with two other parties, the left-leaning Greens and pro-business FDP, collapsed early this week when the FDP unilaterally pulled out.