After 18 hours of talks and still no agreement in sight between Merkel s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats, tired negotiators said a result would likely not emerge before dawn. As it stands, Germany is a key partner in Europe - more so than the United Kingdom at this point - on a number of issues, ranging from sanctions against Russian Federation to economic ties with Europe.
Several negotiators were seen leaving the meetings, telling waiting journalists the talks could still take a while or even last until dawn.
"But I'm starting this day with a lot of energy because we know that people expect us to find solutions".
- Chancellor Angela Merkel took a significant step toward ending Germany's lengthy political impasse by securing a preliminary agreement Friday to enter formal coalition talks with a center-left party.
Being the largest opposition party in the German parliament means AfD will get to head a number of parliamentary committees, and will receive public funding and other tools through which to promote its anti-Islam and anti-immigration political agenda. Because she needs Schulz, Merkel is willing to go along with it and use the combined power of France and Germany to pressure smaller member states into accepting this new grand United States of Europe, national sovereignty be damned.
Every political career ends, and Merkel's finale may be coming faster than just about anyone had predicted.
Germany s economic health has stood in stark contrast to the political paralysis, which has entered a fourth month.
Questions surrounding Germany s 2015 record refugee influx as well as issues related to the country s finances were sticking points even as Europe s biggest economy posted healthy growth for 2017 and a record surplus.
The Social Democrats reportedly received commitments for hiring more care workers and increasing salaries in the sector, and for no cuts to the minimum pension level until at least 2025.
SPD Parliamentarian Hilde Mattheis, who opposes a grand coalition, told the daily Schwaebische Zeitung that the mood in her party "is still very fragile".
Following two punishing terms in bed with Merkel, however, the SPD leadership has given its members two chances to call off the latest engagement: at a party conference later this month and a grassroots vote at the end of formal talks.
If the exploratory discussions succeed, SPD leaders will seek approval for full-scale coalition talks at a special party convention on January 21, backing that is not guaranteed.
"That's a secret that's hidden in her heart", said Jürgen Hardt, a veteran CDU member of Parliament and the party's spokesman on foreign affairs.
Schulz said the SPD achieved excellent results, and Merkel said it was "a paper of giving and taking".
Should the Social Democrats and Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian-only Christian Social Union not be able to form a coalition, the only other paths ahead would be a Merkel-led minority government or fresh elections.
A survey published by Focus magazine found that 34 percent of Germans prefer new elections, while only 30 percent favoured a return of the conservative-SPD alliance.
A recent poll from public broadcaster ARD showed that 52% of respondents did not think another grand coalition was a good idea.