German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she will consult Monday with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier after weeks of talks to form a coalition government fell apart with one potential partner withdrawing from the process.
"It is at least a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany," Merkel told reporters. "But I will do everything possible to ensure that this country will be well led through these difficult weeks."
She spoke after the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) decided to exit a possible coalition with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, along with the left-leaning Greens.
FDP leader Christian Lindner said his party opted to withdraw rather than compromise its principles and agree to policies it does not completely support.
"It is better not to govern than to govern falsely," Lindner said.
The parties have clashed on several issues, including immigration and the environment.
With the failure of the coalition talks, Germany could be headed to new elections. Merkel could still try to form a minority government, or try to convince the Social Democratic Party to change its mind and continue as a junior coalition partner in a new government.
But the Social Democrats have said since a disappointing result in the September election that they would be heading to the opposition.