Germany: Greens pledge openness to new alliances as they head for opposition

Leaders of Germany's Greens told members Saturday that the party must be open to new alliances in future, after the defeat of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's center-left government pushed them into opposition.

The end of their seven-year "red-green" alliance with Schroeder's Social Democrats will leave the Greens with no ministers at either state or national level once Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel takes office, likely next month.

Merkel's conservatives flirted with the Greens _ a party rooted in the protest generation of the 1960s and 1970s _ after the Sept. 18 election left both Schroeder's government and her preferred center-right alliance without a parliamentary majority.

However, the Greens said their differences remain too wide, and rejected talks on entering an improbable alliance with the conservatives and their ally, the pro-business Free Democrats. Instead, Merkel is forming a coalition with Schroeder's party.

Conference delegates later Saturday approved a motion put forward by party leaders that set out their future strategy. Still, any linkup with new partners on the right appears unlikely in the short term. For now, Kuenast said, the Greens are aiming for "a leading role in the opposition."

Co-chairman Reinhard Buetikofer cautioned the party against rushing into "over-hasty combination games" before a series of state elections next year. The Greens need to keep a high profile, after their 8.1 percent vote share left them as the smallest of five parties in parliament, with 51 lawmakers.

They will have to do so without popular outgoing Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, long their dominant figure, who stayed away Saturday after signaling his withdrawal from front-line politics, AP reports.


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