Gemany may be facing a new election after late-night talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition partners to failed resolve a row on migrant policy.
After four hours of talks late on Tuesday, the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union (CSU) were still far from in agreement.
SPD leader Andrea Nahles said on Wednesday that the situation is extremely tense, leaving open the question of a possible new election.
'In all questions, including in migrant policy, we have a very tense situation in the coalition,' Ms Nahles said.
'It is unsatisfactory that this week we have standstill and it is unclear what will happen.'
Asked if she was preparing for a new election, she said: 'I don't know. To be honest with you, we are waiting to see.'
The row is over plans drawn up by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CSU, which would see asylum-seekers who have registered in another European Union country to be turned away at the German border.
'From the next week we want migrants to be rejected at the border if they have already registered in another European country and should therefore go through the asylum procedure there,' Alexander Dobrindt, a senior CSU lawmaker, said.
The chancellor has warned against Germany taking unilateral measures without the agreement of its EU neighbors, but faces a Sunday deadline to reach a compromise with her allies.
The CSU meet on Sunday to decide whether to defy Merkel and introduce the new controls.
If Seehofer goes ahead with his plans, many members of Merkel's CDU say she would be forced to fire him.
That could lead to a breakup of the 70-year old alliance between the CDU and CSU and rob Merkel of a parliamentary majority.
The main options then look like a Merkel-led minority government or a new election. It is also possible that Merkel, chancellor for nearly 13 years, may lose support in her own CDU.
However, some commentators say the CSU has softened its tone in the last day or two, with some members saying the aim is not to bring down Merkel's government - even if they are not shifting on the main substance of their plans.
Merkel's open-door migrant policy, which has led to the arrival of more than 1.6 million migrants in Germany since the start of 2015, is blamed for the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), now the main opposition party.