Four parties from across the political spectrum have begun talks to form Germany’s next government under the leadership of Angela Merkel, but a host of policy differences mean the Chancellor is facing a daunting task to negotiate common ground amongst them all.

Although Angela Merkel’s center-right parliamentary bloc got the most votes (32.9%) in last month’s elections, the party’s worst result since 1949 has left it searching for coalition partners in order to govern. 

In the last parliament, Merkel formed a so-called “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats, but after suffering its worst-ever election result on September 24, taking just 20.5% of the vote, the SPD announced that this time around it will be in opposition to the government. 

As a result, Merkel’s only chance of forming a coalition lies in negotiations with the classically liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens, which came in fourth and sixth place respectively. 

The Eurosceptic, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, which came third with 12.6% of the vote, and the leftist Die Linke, which came fifth with 9.2%, have ruled themselves out of coalition talks.

The potential coalition has been dubbed the “Jamaica Coalition,” since Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc is associated with the color black and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) with yellow, in addition to the Greens.

On Friday, the parties held the first round of joint talks on the formation of a coalition government. They had spent the last week holding talks among themselves as a warm-up to Friday’s discussion, but they have some major policy differences to surmount.

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