Pressure mounted Wednesday on Germany's Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz to reconsider an alliance with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives to stop Europe's biggest economy from sinking into months of paralysis.
Schulz has repeatedly said the SPD would not return as the junior coalition partner in a government led by Merkel, after suffering a stinging defeat in September's general election.
But after Merkel's bid at forming a coalition with other parties fell apart, plunging Germany into a political crisis, voices within and outside the SPD have grown louder in questioning Schulz's decision and push for early elections.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who holds the power to call snap polls and who is himself a senior Social Democrat, has said that this "is the moment when all participants need to reconsider their attitude".
Steinmeier will meet Schulz on Thursday.
The president has held talks with the leaders of parties in the failed coalition talks -- the pro-business FDP and the ecologist Greens.
He is due to meet the leader of Merkel's Bavarian allies the CSU later Wednesday.
As the crisis shows no signs of abating, the Sueddeutsche daily reported that "in the SPD, unease is growing over its clear refusal of a grand coalition".
"One must speak with the president openly, without already insisting on your own point of view," Johannes Kahrs, who leads the right-leaning wing of the SPD, told Bild daily.
"Resistance is growing" against Schulz, Bild reported, adding that the "most prominent secret advocate for a new grand coalition is deputy chancellor Sigmar Gabriel".
Schulz has declared that he was ready for a snap poll, but latest surveys show that an early election would likely deliver similar results to September's.
Seemingly backpedalling from Schulz's snap polls call, SPD parliamentary group chief Andrea Nahles said on Monday she would not rule out backing a Merkel-led minority government.
The party's rank and file are also wondering if Schulz is the best man to lead them into any new election campaign, according to media reports two weeks before the SPD's annual congress.
"Too many mistakes during the election, missteps with new appointments and -- worst of all -- a misjudgement of the public's current mood," Bild said.
© 2017 AFP