Germany has been plunged into political crisis due to the collapse of coalition talks. The chances are that this would trigger fresh elections which could put Angela Merkel's future in doubt.
Mrs Merkel had been attempting to put together a four-party government. Her efforts nosedived when the pro-business Free Democrats walked out shortly before midnight after repeatedly clashing with the left-wing Greens.
The Chancellor may face criticism over her handling of the talks, which have gone on for two months. There are bound to be questions as to whether she can continue at the helm of her Christian Democratic Party (CDU) should it face a re-run of the election in the new year.
The bone of contention has been the issue of immigration. This has overshadowed the past two years of Mrs Merkel's leadership following her decision to allow 1.2 million asylum seekers into Germany.
The Christian Social Union (CSU), which is the Bavarian sister party to the CDU, had demanded a cap of 200,000 on refugees allowed into Germany in a year. This demand was unacceptable to the Greens. The left-wing party also demanded much deeper cuts to coal power than the Free Democrats could stomach.