German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top conservatives started exploratory talks on Friday – 12 days after winning elections – on forming a coalition government with the defeated centre-left Social Democrats.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Bavarian sister party CSU each sent seven members, as did the Social Democrats (SPD), who lost the election with 25.7 percent against the conservatives' 41.5 percent.
The talks Friday were expected to last several hours to sound out whether the two biggest parties, despite their policy differences, can again form a left-right 'grand coalition' government as they did in 2005-09.
The CDU/CSU is also due to hold exploratory talks next Thursday with the left-leaning and ecologist Greens party, who scored 8.4 percent.
No members of the delegations of senior party leaders spoke as they entered the neutral ground for negotiations, the Parliamentary Association building near the Reichstag parliament in Berlin.