Germany’s Greens have voted to enter coalition talks to form a new government with Social Democrat Olaf Scholz.
The Greens say they can work with Mr Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) to speed up Germany’s move away from coal-fuelled power in favour of renewable energy.
They expect to be the second party in a three-way coalition where the Social Democrats are the biggest partner and the pro-business Free Democrats are the junior partner.
The Free Democrats, who usually ally with the centre-right, are expected to give their approval on Monday to the three-way ‘traffic light’ coalition, named after the party colours of members.
The proposed coalition could be “a big win for the Greens, for Germany,” the party's co-leader Robert Habeck said.
“In the coming government, the Greens can take on more responsibility for our country than ever — we will be drivers of major transformations,” he said.
Mr Scholz took a major step towards the German chancellorship on Friday, as his SPD and their favoured coalition partners struck an initial deal to work together.
The 12-page outline pact paves the way for fuller negotiations to agree a line-by-line programme for the new government, which Mr Scholz wants in place by Christmas.
The preliminary agreement calls for Germany accelerating its exit from coal-fuelled power, currently due by 2038, so it “ideally” happens by 2030. That was a key Green demand.
It also pledges to speed up “drastically” Germany’s expansion of renewable energy generation, but says there will be no overall speed limit on Germany’s highways, which the Free Democrats opposed.
There has been some criticism from climate activists that the plans so far don’t go far enough, but little of that was heard at Sunday’s meeting.
The prospective partners say they won’t raise taxes, something the SPD and Greens had wanted for top earners and the Free Democrats opposed.
Mr Scholz hopes that his new government, which would send outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Union bloc into opposition, will be in place by Christmas.
The Social Democrats finished narrowly before the Union to win Germany’s September 26 election, with the Greens third and the Free Democrats fourth.
The Greens are the only prospective partner that so far has pledged to put a possible coalition agreement to a ballot of its entire membership.
This would be the Greens’ second time as part of a German government. They were the junior partners from 1998-2005 in a two-party centre-left coalition under then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.