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CSU and Free Voters begin coalition talks in Bavaria

Three days after the state elections in Bavaria, the CDU and Free Voters have begun talks to form a coalition.

CSU and Free Voters begin coalition talks in Bavaria
Markus Söder at a CSU press conference in Munich on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Led by party leaders Horst Seehofer and Hubert Aiwanger, the conservative CSU and center to center-right Free Voters are looking to lay down the groundwork for possible coalition negotiations.

SEE ALSO: Comment: Political earthquake in Bavaria? No, but Germany is still shaking things up

For most of their 73-year history, the CSU have single-handedly governed Bavaria, but after an unprecedented low result of 37.2 percent in Sunday’s elections, are now looking for a coalition partner.

They don’t have any time to waste. “Let's get started now,” Seehofer said on Wednesday when he arrived at the state parliament in Munich.

Discussions with the Greens, who won around 17 percent of the vote, are planned for the afternoon. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) stressed that he was “optimistic about the talks”.

'We'll manage'

As in the past few days, Aiwanger was confident that the two parties could reach an agreement quickly. “We'll manage,” he said, pointing out that the parties have been working towards this for years. The Free Voters of Bavaria, founded in 1978, have not yet been in a coalition with a major party.

Directly after the exploratory talks with both the Free Voters and the Greens, the CSU wants to decide with which party it wants to start coalition negotiations.

It remains to be seen how much time both the Greens and Free Voters will need to speak out for – or against – coalition negotiations. The Free Voters could vote on it at their party conference on October 27th.

SEE ALSO: The winners and losers: 7 things you need to know about the Bavarian elections

Söder and Seehofer had repeatedly stressed over the past few days that they sympathize more with an alliance with the Free Voters, whose major issues span the political spectrum – from stricter border controls to a push for greater renewable energies – but who encompass more conservative viewpoints.

However, the Free Voters also campaign for social issues, such as free daycare for families.

With the Greens, for example, the CSU's sees considerable differences in content in the areas of domestic politics and environmental protection.

It is also unclear whether the SPD, who snagged a historically low 9.7 percent of the vote, would still be prepared to meet with the CSU for exploratory talks – which their leadership board wants to discuss on Sunday, reported DPA. This option would only come into effect if talks with Greens and Free Voters failed.

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POLITICS

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP

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