BERLIN -- Germany's Greens agreed on Thursday to join negotiations with the conservatives of the Chancellor Angela Merkel to renew a national coalition, a sign that the two may seek a regional government after a federal election in September.
The decision of the Greens party in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg follows an election there last month that the environmentalists won for the third successive time. After long discussions on whether to renew their alliance with the CDU or pursue a three-way coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats and pro-business Free Democrats, Merkel opted for the status quo in the state.
This result gives the basis for the upcoming coalition negotiations, the Greens State Association said.
On Saturday, more detailed talks start before exploratory coalition negotiations can take place. Many analysts see a coalition between Merkel's party and the Greens as the most likely outcome of the May 26 election, although most likely with the conservatives as the senior partner.
Hit by public anger over an increasingly chaotic response to the coronavirus epidemic and a sluggish vaccine rollout, conservatives have slumped to around 27% in the polls, down from almost 33% at the last federal election.
The Greens are around 22%; Merkel is not standing for a fifth term as chancellor and the Conservative bloc is already missing the Merkel Bonus which has helped them to four straight national victories. The new leader of the CDU, Markus Soeder, is vying with Armin Laschet, who leads conservative conservatives to run as the new chancellor candidate of the Bavarian bloc.
A DeutschlandTrend poll for broadcaster ARD showed that 54% of Germans back Laschet compared to 19% who favored Soeder.