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Germany's Chance for a Reset

Why the Failed Coalition Talks Could Be a Good Thing

Chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) Christian Lindner, leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) Angela Merkel, leader of the German Green Party Katrin Goering-Eckardt, and Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery Peter Altmaier are seen on a balcony of German Parliamentary Society offices during the exploratory talks about forming a new coalition government held by CDU/CSU in Berlin, Germany, October 30, 2017. Axel Schmidt / Reuters

Over the weekend, Christian Lindner, the young, camera-loving chairman of Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP), dashed hopes that Berlin would form a black-green-yellow “Jamaica” coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and the Greens. After two months of negotiations, following the CDU’s clear but muted victory in the parliamentary elections in September, Lindner walked out on the talks, saying that the parties had failed to find a way to govern together. As he told the press Monday morning, they were unable to agree on “a common idea of how to modernize Germany.”

Nobody said it would be easy for this eclectic quartet, with the conservative CDU, its sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the pro-business FDP, and the leftist Greens, to cobble together a coalition agreement when their core issues—immigration, taxes, and the environment—were on the line. With the collapse of the coalition talks,

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