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Germany's Merkel, Greens to sound out potential coalition

Update: October, 10/2013 - 11:57

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives will on Thursday meet the Greens party for initial coalition talks.

The talks with the left-leaning ecologist party are part of Merkel's plan for a governing partner after her conservatives won September 22 elections but fell short of a ruling majority.

Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the CSU are already engaged in talks with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

"The chances of a coalition with the Greens have risen in recent days from 'theoretical' to 'conceivable'," Environment Minister Peter Altmayer told this week's edition of news magazine Der Spiegel.

The Greens' new duo of leaders, Katrin Goering-Eckardt and Anton Hofreiter, said on Wednesday they were willing to talk but remained sceptical.

The Greens, who grew out of the environmentalist, anti-war and anti-nuclear movements, entered parliament in the 1980s.

But what started as a protest party has become increasingly mainstream as German society has turned greener.

Many of the Greens' demands, such as greater rights for gays and lesbians and immigrants, are now widely shared, at least in theory. Millions now recycle their garbage, shop organic, ride bicycles to work and have solar panels on their roofs.

The Greens have already had a stint in government, with the SPD from 1998-2005, during which the once avowedly pacifist party signed off on Germany's military deployment to Afghanistan.

Merkel in 2011 adopted the Greens' core demand of a nuclear phase-out, reacting to the public mood after Japan's Fukushima disaster.

The chancellor has already ruled with two coalition partners: the SPD and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) who crashed out of parliament in the last election. AFP

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