German Chancellor Angela Merkel's efforts to form a three-way coalition government that would secure her a fourth term hit a major setback on Sunday after a would-be coalition partner pulled out of exploratory talks, citing irreconcilable differences. Saskia O'Donoghue reports.
Crisis in Germany on Monday (November 20) as Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed her efforts to form a three-way coalition government have stalled. Germany now facing political turmoil, maybe even a new election. The discussions failed after the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) unexpectedly pulled out. That was after more than four weeks of negotiations with Merkel's conservative bloc and the ecologist Greens. They cited irreconcilable differences and a lack of common ground on key issues. UPSOT (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "We think that we have been on a path where an agreement was within reach." Merkel saying she will stay on as acting chancellor and consult Germany's president on how to move forward. Shockwaves across Europe though. During 12 years in power, Merkel has become a symbol of stability, leading the euro zone during its debt crisis and forging a deal between the European Union and Turkey to stem migrant arrivals. That wasn't an entirely popular move at home. Merkel was weakened after a September election, with many voters angry at her decision in 2015 to open Germany's borders to more than a million asylum seekers. They punished her conservatives by voting for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Now two options loom. Merkel could form a minority government - or the president could call a new election if no government is formed. The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel's current coalition partners, ruling out a new pact. But there is little appetite for a new election across Germany. The mainstream parties fear that the AfD would add to the 13 percent of votes it secured in September, which saw it surge into parliament as the third-biggest party.