The hard bargaining begins in Germany today in a bid to end a political stalemate following Sunday’s inconclusive election.Coalition talks are kicking off, with Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats meeting their partners in the outgoing government, the Greens. The Chancellor will need more than just their backing however if he is to form a new administration. His party looks keen to woo the pro-business Free Democrats in a bid to get them on board too. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer’s decision to give up his leading role in the Greens could open up his party’s coalition options. It is thought unlikely he would have been able to work with either the head of the Free Democrats or Angela Merkel, should the Greens team up with her conservatives.Although slightly ahead in Sunday’s poll, Merkel knows she – like Gerhard Schroeder – has her work cut out for her in finding a way out of this impasse.