The photo of the day in Germany is a selfie of the rapprochement between the Greens and the Liberals.

The Greens and the German Freedom Party (FDP) have opened their contacts with a view to a possible coalition government, presumably led by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, although the conservative Armin Laschet has not withdrawn his aspiration to be chancellor.

What now: questions and answers on the German elections?

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The two co-presidents of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, as well as FDP leader Christian Lindner and FDP Secretary General Volker Wissing met on Tuesday evening, ahead of schedule, as there had been talk of a first meeting on Wednesday.

A photo of the meeting was published by the four of them simultaneously on Instagram, as a prearranged action and apparently to show harmony.

“In search of a new government we have addressed our common ground and bridges to overcome differences. And we have even found some. Interesting times,” says the text, also common (unlike the filters used), of the four.

Both parties were the favourites of the younger generation: voters under 30 preferred the Greens (22%) and the FDP (20%) by a wide margin, according to an exit poll.

Everything points to the next coalition government being a tripartite government with the Greens and the Liberals, third and fourth respectively with 14.8% and 11.5% respectively.

Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) was the most voted force, with 27.1%, while Laschet’s conservative bloc came second, with 24.1%. The difference between the two is not so much, from a mathematical point of view, but the SPD rose five points compared to 2017, while lConservatives dropped nearly nine points.

Image of rapprochement

The meeting between ecologists and liberals is interpreted as an attempt to seek rapprochement and avoid a situation like the one created in 2017, then Chancellor Angela Merkel already tried an alliance between these two formations and the conservatives, which collapsed when Lindner’s FDP gave for broken the negotiation.

The result of that abandonment was a new grand coalition between conservatives and social democrats, the only possible way to have the necessary parliamentary majority, something that now all those involved want to avoid.

One of the big news on Sunday came from Lindner, when he suggested meeting first with the leaders of the Greens before entering into coalition talks. Such a rapprochement makes perfect sense to analysts like Jeremy Cliff, a journalist for the New Statesman, since the Greens are closer to the SPD and the FDP is closer to the CDU/CSU.

“Both are determined to get into government and the biggest differences on issues such as major fiscal and climate issues would be the biggest stumbling blocks (…). If (and it’s a big ‘if’) the two can find compromises on those differences, it puts them in a strong position to drive up the political price of their support for the SPD or the CDU/CSU,” he says. “That common ground between the two would likely involve a mix of state and market mechanisms to decarbonize the economy, greater public investments within the constraints of Germany’s politically sacrosanct debt brake, and important ministries for both (the FDP wants Finance, the Greens Foreign and some form of mega-ministry for the environment and economy).”

Social media furore

In addition to the political analysis it has triggered, the photo has become a hit on social media, garnering tens of thousands of likes. Many users commented with traffic light emojis (as the SPD coalition with Greens and liberals is popularly known) and others with the Jamaican flag, the name of the alliance between conservatives, Greens and liberals.

The memes and parodies – several of them using deepfake technology – have not been slow in coming either.

The SPD has already declared its intention to enter into negotiations as soon as possible with Greens and Liberals. Laschet has not withdrawn his intention to at least sound out these hypothetical partners, despite strong pressure from within his own bloc to abandon this intention.

The leader of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), Markus Söder, congratulated Scholz on his election victory Tuesday and called to respect those results. Laschet, head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and common candidate of the conservative bloc, has so far avoided that step.

At the beginning of the year, Söder and Laschet were locked in a fierce internal battle, as they both aspired to be the candidate for the chancellorship. With the conservative bloc sinking to its worst-ever results, pressure on the CDU leader has been mounting.

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