Germany’s political problems appear to have deepened amid reports that senior conservative Edmund Stoiber will not join a coalition government of the main left and right parties.
Associates said Stoiber, who was expected to become Economy minister, was opting out after the Social Democrat leader, Franz Muenteferring, announced he was stepping down.
The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats have been trying to form a so-called grand coalition since inconclusive elections last month.
But party in-fighting and difficulties the two sides face in reaching compromise over policies have made the task extremely difficulty, and some German media are even speculating on fresh elections.
Talks have entered a crucial phase and the two camps are under pressure to reach a consensus before a self imposed deadline of November 12.
The Social Democrats will hold a meeting tomorrow to chose a new leader and decide whether it wants to continue with Muentefering’s centrist course – a direction which did not find favour with the left of the party.
Muentefering, who had been slated to become the vice chancellor, was regarded ed by the Christian Democrats as someone with whom they could work. His withdrawal is believed to have influenced Stoiber, who heads the CDU’s Bavarian sister party.