A week after German elections, the Greens party, like the Social Democrats, expect to enter exploratory talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's victorious conservatives on forming a coalition government, two top party officials said Sunday.
Although Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) triumphed in the September 22 vote, it must now cast around for a new governing partner after its previous allies, the pro-business Free Democrats, failed to win any seats.
Most observers believe the biggest opposition group, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), will eventually form a left-right 'grand coalition' with the CDU, but the ecologist Greens also said they are expecting exploratory talks with Merkel.
"Mrs Merkel will also speak with the Greens after her talks with the SPD," the Greens' election candidate Juergen Trittin told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that his party had "received signals" pointing to such a dialogue.
The outgoing party leader Claudia Roth also told the Sunday newspaper that she presumed "that the chancellor will invite us to exploratory talks."
However, both politicians -- who are due to step down from senior party posts after a disappointing 8.4 percent election result for the Greens -- also said they thought it unlikely that they would end up in a governing alliance with the CDU.
Merkel, after Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster, decided to phase out nuclear power and promote renewable energies, a decades-old goal of the Greens -- but the parties remain far apart on many other issues from tax to same-sex marriage.
The SPD announced Friday it was ready to start early talks with the CDU on forming a grand coalition like it did from 2005-09, although many rank-and-file members reject the idea of their 150-year-old party again governing in Merkel's shadow.
If they did agree to enter another coalition government, the SPD would be expected to seek a high price in terms of policy compromises and ministerial posts, in a poker-like negotiating process that could take weeks or months.
SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel has projected confidence, warning that, should the talks fail, his party "is not scared" of ending up on the opposition benches or even even facing fresh elections.
A poll for ZDF public television on Friday found 58 percent support for another grand coalition government, while 32 percent approved of a conservative-Greens alliance.