With the pro-business Free Democrats wiped out of the German parliament, it looks as if Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic bloc will be forced into a grand coalition with the left-of-center Social Democrats or into a deal with the Greens, neither of which is particularly enthusiastic about serving under the Chancellor.
Party leaders are scheduled to meet today to discuss negotiations.
The Christian Democratic grouping received 41.5% of the vote, the SDP 25.7% and the Greens 8.4%.
The challenges Merkel faces include the eurozone crisis, Germany's aging population, a lack of investment in education and infrastructure, and soaring pension costs.
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