German Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Friday hold exploratory talks with the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD) on building a coalition government.
Ms. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian-based sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) won a general election this month but fell just short of securing an absolute majority in parliament.
Ms. Merkel’s coalition allies for the last four years, the Free Democrats, failed to win any parliamentary seats in the election.
The negotiations could last months.
Ms. Merkel also plans to hold similar talks with Green Party leaders.
A so-called grand coalition with the SPD is more likely than an alliance with the environmentalist Greens.
The SPD would need to hold a special party conference before launching formal coalition talks with Ms. Merkel.
German President Joachim Gauck also held confidential talks this week with the leaders of the parliamentary parties.
The SDP wants a minimum wage as well increasing the tax on the rich, which Merkel rejected during the election campaign as bad for business.
The SPD is also committed to ending benefits for stay-at-home mothers, which the CSU wants to uphold.