German Chancellor Angela Merkel was looking for possible coalition partners on September 25, a day after her conservative Christian Social Union bloc (CDU/CSU) was weakened by poorer-than-expected support in national elections.
The vote also brought a far-right party -- the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) -- into parliament for the first time in more than 50 years.
The results left Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as the only party able to lead a new government.
But the center-left Social Democrats (SDP), Merkel's partners since 2013 in a "grand coalition" of Germany's two dominant political parties, has vowed to go into opposition after suffering a heavy defeat.
SDP caucus leader Thomas Oppermann said on September 25 that the party would "not conduct coalition talks, because voters have decided that the Social Democrats' place is in opposition."
That has left Merkel and her allies studying the possibility of a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and the traditionally left-leaning Green party.
With a fractured parliament of six parties, the process of forming a coalition government could take months.
But Merkel said on September 25 that she expects to secure an alliance in coalition talks before Christmas.