It has been a month or so since the German elections. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s talks with other parties were inconclusive. According to The Guardian, talks are to be held next year.
What is the procedure if talks fail again?
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There are basically 2 choices:
Germany's constitution basically requires the German President to make a nomination for the Chancellor and seek the approval of the Bundestag.
Merkel could choose to form a minority government, by getting enough votes to be elected Chancellor. This can be achieved by getting a relative majority during the 3rd election phase and the approval of the German President. (Details in the graphic below)
However, this means that she will have to gather support from MPs in other groups every time she wants to pass legislation.
As Europe’s pre-eminent political power seeks a way out of an unprecedented coalition deadlock, cross-party support is growing for the idea of Angela Merkel running the country without a stable parliamentary majority, according to officials from Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).
The alternative method is to let the election of a Chancellor in the Bundestag fail, forcing the President to call a snap election.
To move the process forward, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier could nominate Merkel for election by the Bundestag.
If she failed to win an absolute majority, a second vote may be held within 14 days. If this too is inconclusive, a third round would be held in which a plurality of the votes could potentially suffice to keep Merkel in office.
Steinmeier would then have one week to decide whether to recognise Merkel as chancellor or dissolve the Bundestag.
If he chooses the latter, snap elections must be held within 60 days.
Here's a flowchart on how new elections can be called:
Angela Merkel will be acting Chancellor until a new one is elected by the by the Bundestag. During the first and second round of voting, this requires an absolute majority.
The vote will happen after the coaltion talks. There is no strict time limit for these talks, so in theory they could go on a very long time.
After two rounds of voting without clear majority, there is a third round of voting. If there is no absolute majority in this round, the President has a genuine political choice, one of the few he has under the German constitution. He can confirm the candidate with the most votes as the Chancellor. The Chancellor would then lead a minority government. Or he could call for new elections.