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?

  • The election was on 2017-09-24, so it’s more like three months by now. – chirlu Dec 16 '17 at 9:07

There are basically 2 choices:

1. Form a minority government.

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).

2. Call a snap general election.

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.

Source: https://www.thelocal.de/20171117/heres-how-germany-could-end-up-having-a-snap-election-next-year

Here's a flowchart on how new elections can be called:


Source: http://cdn1.spiegel.de/images/image-1217248-860_galleryfree-fzbv-1217248.jpg

  • 1
    The president would not be forced to call snap elections: He could recognize Merkel. It's intentionally quite hard to disband the parliament. – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder Dec 17 '17 at 12:55

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.

  • No single party has enough votes to elect a Chancellor.
  • The Greens, the FDP, and the CDU/CSU have enough votes. Their coalition talks failed (they called it exploratory talks prior to coalition negotiations, but "coalition talks" are a good translation).
  • The SPD and the CDU/CSU have enough votes. Their coaltion talks are beginning.
  • The Left, Greens, FDP, and SPD would have enough votes. They are not talking yet, and it is difficult to see how the Left and the FDP could come together.

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.

  • The President has indicated his distaste for new elections and called for parties to talk. Of course that is now, he might think different after a negotiation effort failed due to political differences.
  • If the third round gets voted along party lines, Angela Merkel would receive a relative majority.
  • It would be conceivable that there is a coaltion minority government, e.g. by the Left, Greens, and SPD or by the Greens and CDU/CSU, which votes along coalition lines and not along party lines during the third round. There is no historical precendent for (or against) that.

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