German conservative leader Angela Merkel said on Monday she could not recommend entering full coalition talks with the Social Democrats (SPD) until they recognized her as the country's rightful chancellor. Speaking after a meeting of her Christian Democrats (CDU) in Berlin, she laid out conditions for talks to break the deadlock that has plagued Germany since Sunday's inconclusive election.
Merkel, 51, told reporters these include "a recognition from them (the SPD) that the conservatives are the top party and have responsibility for naming the chancellor."
"It must be clear that the Union chooses the chancellor," she said, calling it a 'condition' for the negotiations.
In an unprecedented move Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose party was narrowly beaten by the conservatives, has insisted on remaining in office — an objective that SPD General Secretary Klaus Uwe Benneter reiterated shortly after Merkel spoke.
The central hurdle to those talks is agreement on who will lead the next government, Reuters reports. Before serious talks can proceed, Merkel said her party wanted to reach a consensus with the SPD on which German problems needed to be addressed and get assurances the SPD was prepared to implement policies that would "renew" Germany.