Political analysts have been contemplating what could happen next in Europe's largest economy after coalition talks collapsed at the weekend, potentially putting German Chancellor Angela Merkel's leadership in doubt.
Talks between Merkel's CDU (Christian Democratic Union), the pro-business FDP (Free Democratic Party) and the environmentalist Greens fell apart with lawmakers citing irreconcilable differences. This would be the first time since World War II that a German election hasn't produced a government.
"It is a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany," Merkel said following the collapse of talks. "As chancellor, I will do everything to ensure that this country is well managed in the difficult weeks to come," she added.
Merkel is set to meet with the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier Monday to decide what to do next. He could decide to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections within two months, but there are other ways forward, according to economists.