Latest: Angela Merkel backing new election in Germany if impasse continues

Update 5.40pm: German chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is "very sceptical" about the idea of running a minority government and a new election would be a better option if it is not possible to form a coalition.

Mrs Merkel's attempt to build a coalition of her conservatives and two smaller parties collapsed on Sunday.

Her partners in the outgoing government, the centre-left Social Democrats, insisted on Monday that they will not renew the alliance.

No other politically plausible combination has a parliamentary majority, leaving a minority government or a new election as the only options.

Mrs Merkel said in an interview with ARD public television's Brennpunkt programme: "I don't have a minority government in my plans....I don't want to say never today, but I am very sceptical and I think that new elections would then be the better way."

Germany's president has urged the political parties to reconsider their positions and make it possible to form a new government.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who would have to decide on those options, said he will meet the various parties this week and urged them to rethink.

Mr Steinmeier said: "There would be incomprehension and great concern inside and outside our country, and particularly in our European neighbourhood, if the political forces in the biggest and economically strongest country in Europe of all places did not fulfil their responsibility."

Germany's September 24 election produced an awkward result that left Mrs Merkel's two-party conservative bloc seeking a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and the traditionally left-leaning Greens.

The combination of ideologically-disparate parties had not been tried before in a national government, and came to nothing when the Free Democrats walked out of talks on Sunday night.

Mrs Merkel said her conservatives had left "nothing untried to find a solution".

She said that she "will do everything to ensure that this country is well-led through these difficult weeks".

It is likely to be a while before the situation is resolved.

Update 3.00pm: Germany's president urges parties to resolve coalition deadlock

Germany’s president has urged his country’s political parties to reconsider their positions and make it possible to form a new government.

Conservative chancellor Angela Merkel’s talks on forming a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and traditionally left-leaning Greens collapsed last night.

Today, the centre-left Social Democrats, Mrs Merkel’s partners in the outgoing government, said they will not budge from their refusal to enter a new administration led by Mrs Merkel.

If that stands, a minority government or new elections are the only options.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who would have to decide on those options, said he will meet the various parties this week and urged them to rethink.

Mr Steinmeier said: "There would be incomprehension and great concern inside and outside our country, and particularly in our European neighbourhood, if the political forces in the biggest and economically strongest country in Europe of all places did not fulfil their responsibility."

Germany’s September 24 election produced an awkward result that left Mrs Merkel’s two-party conservative bloc seeking a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and the traditionally left-leaning Greens.

The combination of ideologically-disparate parties had not been tried before in a national government, and came to nothing when the Free Democrats walked out of talks on Sunday night.

Mrs Merkel said her conservatives had left "nothing untried to find a solution".

She said that she "will do everything to ensure that this country is well-led through these difficult weeks".

It is likely to be a while before the situation is resolved.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arrives for a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Bellevue Palace in Berlin today.

Earlier: The leader of Germany's main centre-left party says it will stick by its refusal to join a new government under conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Social Democrats have been the junior partners in a "grand coalition" government of Germany's biggest parties since 2013.

But their leaders have said since the party slumped in September to its worst election result since the Second World War that it would go into opposition.

Party chairman Martin Schulz said on Monday that the Social Democrats are "not available" for a repeat of the outgoing coalition.

He said, after the election, "it was clear that the 'grand coalition' had got the red card".

Mr Schulz said his party is not afraid of a new election.

Mrs Merkel's attempt to form a government with other partners collapsed on Sunday night.


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