German political leaders are racing to form new governing coalitions after Sunday's general election gave no party a clear majority in parliament.
Both Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel and the Social Democrats' chief and incumbent, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, have claimed the right to be chancellor. Ms. Merkel's party edged out the Social Democrats in the election by three seats in the 598-seat lower house.
The two major parties are now in talks with a medley of possible coalition partners, but for now have ruled out a so-called "Grand Coalition" between the two of them.
Business leaders and the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso have urged a quick end to the stalemate.
On Monday, German stock prices fell amid the election uncertainty and skepticism over enacting financial reforms in Europe's biggest economy.