>> It's 87 days since an election in Germany where Angela Merkel's Conservative party won those seats that led support to the far right. There's still no coalition in sight and that's the longest time that Germany has ever needed to form a government. The Germans are taking this in their stride, I'm Madelyn Chambers, correspondent in the Berlin Bureau of Reuters.
A month ago when Angela Merkel's plans to form a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens collapsed. There were dire predictions from some commentators of politic stability in Europe's powerhouse, and possibly the new elections. In particular people are worries that the far right AfD might make even bigger gains in the new election.
But this hasn't transpired, in fact Angela Merkel is now pinning her hopes on the Social Democrats who have said they are open to talks and they will talk with her. We don't know yet whether there will be another grand coalition between the two parties or a new set arrangement.
And Germans are going ahead with their daily lives as if nothing had happened. There's a caretaker government with Angela Merkel as Chancellor. She's going EU summits in Brussels, the Bundestag, Lower House of Parliament is meeting and passing any necessary legislation. The economy is actually nearing a peak of its cycle, unemployment is at record lows.
And the predictions for Christmas spending are very positive. Economists are falling over themselves, raising their predictions for growth next year. The Info Institute has just raised its forecast for next year to 2.6% which is the highest level since 2011. On the street in the Christmas markets where Germans enjoy a glass of steaming glue wine and the sausage, the atmosphere is totally relaxed.