After the re-election of Germany's Angela Merkel to a fourth-term in power, the hard task of political negotiations to form a coalition government has begun and could take weeks, if not months.
Talks are reported to have begun between Merkel's conservative alliance of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the smaller, pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens.
Badly wounded in the election, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) said that it would become the main opposition party and would not join any coalition, even if talks stumble between Merkel's conservative bloc and the smaller parties – which have conflicting views on issues ranging from the environment to European integration.
Ralf Stegner, deputy leader of the SPD, reiterated that point to CNBC, saying the "door is closed" on any renewal of the "grand coalition," particularly after his party fared so badly in the election. It gained 20.5 percent of the vote, down from the last election in 2013 when it received 25.7 percent.