Founded in 1948, the liberal pro-business FDP participated in German governments led by the CDU and the SPD as a junior partner for a total of 45 years - before dropping out of parliament after the 2013 general election.
The FDP promotes free market economy and individual liberty and had a reputation as a "king maker" for both Germany's big parties, neither of whom have managed to get an absolute majority for decades. Frequently, the FDP emerged as a viable junior coalition partner. The FDP's critics alleged that the party catered only to its voter base of urban, wealthy, self-employed Germans - such as pharmacists, hotel owners, lawyers and doctors. It failed to get more than 5% of the vote in the 2013 election and therefore dropped out of the Bundestag. The party is seeking to recover its national parliamentary representation in the 2017 elections. Recent DW stories tagged "FDP" appear on this page.
It's been a long time since there's been this much political uncertainty in Germany. The general election is still a year away, but the refugee crisis has had a major impact on politics. Here's where the parties stand.
Center-left parties the SPD and Greens are set to form a coalition with the free market liberals the FDP in the western state. This ensures that Chancellor Merkel's CDU and the controversial AfD are out of government.