Open Europe Blog

As we noted in this morning’s press summary the back and forth over different coalitions and their terms has begun in Germany. So far however all comments are likely strategic and no serious movement is to be expected in the next days. SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel already stressed that the process will take “weeks and months”.   

There are four key stages which have to take place in the negotiations and the likely timeline for them to be concluded is at least two months. It could well be longer if any of them is delayed since there is no official time limit.

Four stages

(1) ‘Sondierung’ (Informal talks between parties to establish whether there is enough consensus to start official coalition negotiations)
(2) Coalition negotiations
(3) Sign coalition contract
(4) Vote for Chancellor and launch of government

Preliminary schedule

27 September
SPD ‘small’ party convention (comprising SPD leadership + 200 members)
→ will decide whether party leadership gets green light to begin informal talks with CDU/CSU over a Grand coalition (Stage 1)

Early to Mid-October
‘Small’ party convention will reconvene
→ If the informal talks prove productive (stage 1) the party leadership will ask the small convention to give approval for the beginning of official negotiations (stage 2)
→ might defer this decision to the ‘big’ party conference (this would delay the schedule and could mean stage 2 does not begin until mid-November)

14-16 November
SPD ‘big’ party conference
→ If stage 1 & 2 successful, will decide whether coalition agreement will be adopted and thus give way to stage 3
→ Will also provide opportunity to decide issues such as party leadership positions & future ministerial positions

25 November
Bundestag will reconvene
→ Vote for next Chancellor and formal launch of new government

Clearly then, the minimum time for a Grand coalition to be formed and finalised is likely to be around two months. This could of course be different for a coalition with the Greens, although we would imagine not markedly so.

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