The leader of Germany’s conservatives, Armin Laschet, has announced a party congress next week, indicating he is ready to step down.
Mr Laschet was picked to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor, but presided over their worst ever election defeat. The new personnel of the party would be tackled quickly, he said, “from the chairman through the party leadership to the federal executive committee”.
The conservatives lost to the centre-left Social Democrats 11 days ago. The victorious SPD, led by Olaf Scholz, started coalition talks with two “kingmaker” parties on Thursday.
SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil said he was not even going to think about the negotiations with the Greens and pro-business liberals not working out.
A spokesman for the liberals said the meeting in Berlin had gone well. More intensive talks are now set to take place on Monday. Mr Laschet’s support has been ebbing away but he has refused to abandon hope of a conservative-led coalition.
He told reporters it was not about personalities it was about the national interest. Although he did not say outright that he would resign, he was earlier quoted as telling his CDU party’s MPs he would be happy to “if it works out better with other people”.
In his statement, he said he still believed in a conservative-led government with the Greens and liberals, and his party would watch closely how the current coalition talks worked out.
However, an opinion poll on Thursday suggested that 53% of Germans backed an SPD-led coalition of the three parties, while only a quarter supported a conservative-run government.
The leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, Markus Söder, has already called for the conservatives to prepare for opposition.