GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with the leaders of smaller parties for the start of formal talks on forming a new governing coalition.

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, their Bavaria-only sister party and the centre-left Social Democrats all suffered major losses in last September’s national election.

The three parties are aiming to complete negotiations within two weeks, after which the deal will be put to Social Democrat members for approval.

Going into yesterday’s meeting, Merkel said that preliminary negotiations between the three parties had resulted in a “very good framework.”

She said her focus would be on setting an agenda for the new government that would allow Germany to tackle the challenges of a digital world and keep attracting outside investment.

The long-time chancellor’s attempts at forming a previously untested coalition with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats failed last year.

Social Democrats leader Martin Schulz faces strong opposition from his own party members to a renewal of the “grand coalition” that has governed Germany since 2013, and they could vote to reject any deal.

Schulz said he hoped the talks would be “swift and constructive”.

Despite the political turmoil, Germany’s economy has remained stable in recent months.