It is now clear what the new Bundestag in Germany, which is the lower house of Parliament, will look like. There are three plausible new coalition governments that have majority support, but it could take weeks to create a new administration. Let's take a look at the process.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
German governments are usually led by the first-placed party, but this is not always true. If other parties form a coalition, it can be in opposition. This happened in 1976 and 1980 when Helmut Schmidt, then-Chancellor, remained in office despite finishing second.
The process of forming a new federal government is free from any referee and has no time limit. To find the most common ground, parties hold exploratory talks. Then one party moves on to formal coalition negotiations.
After a coalition has been formed, the German president nominates to Bundestag a candidate to become chancellor. This requires a majority vote from all members in order to be elected.
If the two attempts to elect a chancellor fail with a majority, the constitution permits the president to appoint either the candidate winning the most votes in the third vote or to dissolve and hold a national election. This has not happened yet.
WHEN WILL MERKEL STEP DUPLICATE?
Merkel and her government will continue to serve as a caretaker until her successor is elected by the Bundestag.
After an unsuccessful attempt to form another alliance, the outgoing coalition holds record for the longest time it took to form a government. Merkel was elected by the Bundestag to her fourth term on March 14, 2018, almost six months after German voters voted on September 24, 2017.