Germany's two main opposition parties, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, both voiced willingness Friday to compete for a place in Chancellor Angela Merkel's next coalition government, dpa reported.
Peer Steinbrueck, the unsuccessful SPD challenger to Merkel in Germany's election, told a special conference of 200 senior figures of his party in Berlin he would not seek any fresh post in the party, source at the meeting told dpa.
Steinbrueck, 66, has already ruled out accepting any ministry in any Merkel-led coalition. He is expected however to remain a backbencher in parliament. His campaign misfired and Merkel's support surged Sunday to just short of a parliamentary majority.
"My career will come to a tidy end," participants in the SPD meeting quoted Steinbrueck, a former finance minister, saying.
At the special conference, the party leaders were urging the conference to authorize exploratory talks with Merkel on a coalition. The same day, senior Greens met in Berlin and appointed their negotiators for exploratory talks.
Wary of Merkel playing them off against one another, both parties denied eagerness for power. The SPD leadership placed an added obstacle in the way, recommending a referendum among the party's 470,000 members after negotiation on whether to accept the terms.
Merkel's Christian Democratic (CDU/CSU) bloc emerged as the biggest force in parliament in Sunday's election, but fell short of a majority by five seats. Amid concern abroad that Germany could be rudderless, she is seeking an alliance with the SPD or the Greens.
The SPD talks could begin as early as next week if the delegates attending the convention in Berlin accept the leadership's recommendation, SDP officials said.
Detailed terms on forming a grand coalition between the SPD and the CDU/CSU would have to be approved at a special party convention, they said.
Meeting earlier Friday, the Greens began preparing the ground in case Merkel invites them into coalition talks.
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