Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) are ready to hold talks with other parties on breaking political deadlock created by Chancellor Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government, a senior member of the centre-left party said.
The decision by the SPD, which had said it would go into opposition after suffering its worst result of the postwar period in a September election, makes it less likely that a new election will be necessary with all its potential disruption for Europe's economic and political powerhouse.
"The SPD will not say no to discussions," SPD General Secretary Hubertus Heil told reporters on Friday after hours of discussion among SPD leaders.
Heil did not say with which parties the Social Democrats would negotiate, nor whether they aim to be in a governing coalition or simply provide parliamentary support to a minority government led by Merkel.
The SPD has been under growing pressure to drop their opposition to a renewed "grand coalition" with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Christian Social Union (CSU) Bavarian allies after September's election.
The SPD have governed in coalition under Merkel since 2013. But party leader Martin Schulz said the party must heed the will of voters by going into opposition.
Merkel is facing the biggest political crisis of her career since efforts to forge a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and ecologist Greens collapsed last weekend. That has raised worries across Europe of prolongued uncertainty in the world's fourth biggest economy.