Greens eye coalition with left in threat to Merkel
Germany's Greens have proposed holding coalition talks in the city state of Bremen with the Social Democrats (SPD) and far-left Linke, in a reminder to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives that even if they come first in any elections, they are not guaranteed power.
The Greens' push for a leftist coalition in Bremen is significant because the party, fresh from coming second in May's European Parliament elections, wants federal elections held if Ms Merkel's coalition with the SPD collapses.
That scenario has grown more likely after the SPD suffered election setbacks in May, prompting its leader to quit.
In the last national parliament, the SPD, Greens and Linke had more seats than Ms Merkel's conservative bloc, although policy divisions prevented them from forming a federal government.
While Bremen is a tiny state with a long left-wing history, a so-called Red-Red-Green coalition there would be the first of its kind in Germany's west, demonstrating the Greens' ability to tip coalitions to the left or right as they see fit.
A poll for ZDF television yesterday put support for the Greens at a record 26pc nationally - just a point behind Ms Merkel's conservatives.
Together, the Greens, SPD and Linke had 43pc support, the poll showed. But with some smaller parties short of the 5pc threshold required to win seats in parliament, the alliance would be on the cusp of a majority on the national level.
In Bremen, the Greens' proposal offers the SPD a lifeline to hold on to power after the centre-left party failed to win the most votes there for the first time in 73 years last month, narrowly losing to Ms Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).