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Social Democrats back new Merkel-led German government

Social Democrats back new Merkel-led German government

Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) have bought Chancellor Angela Merkel time with their vote to join her conservatives in another coalition, but she risks losing her long grip on power if she fails to balance the awkward allies' conflicting demands. "The SPD will join the next government".

Ms Merkel's survival drew cheers from her allies at home and overseas, with French President Emmanuel Macron declaring it "good news for Europe".

The centre-left Social Democrats have voted overwhelmingly to remain in a coalition with Merkel's conservative bloc, after hard and drawn-out negotiations triggered by September's elections, which saw the rise of a new right-wing force in German politics and raised questions about her future.

Andrea Nahles (R to L), Olaf Scholz and Lars Klingbeil of Social Democratic Party (SPD) speak to party members during the counting of the ballot papers of the voting for a possible coalition between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Germany March 3, 2018.

However, the SPD agreed to negotiate with Merkel's conservatives after talks with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens on a three-way tie-up collapsed in November.

The party's leadership is due to announce the results shortly.

The Social Democrats will put forward six names - three women and three men - to lead the ministries they will control in the upcoming coalition in the coming days, he said.

The SPD had initially ruled out another coalition, when they got just 20.5% of the vote in the September election, but the leadership campaigned for a yes vote to the new deal. But, the new government will likely face the challenge of dealing with a rise of a far-right opposition party.

With the coalition approved, she can now turn her attention to tackling rising anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany while pushing forward efforts to reform the stumbling European Union.

But after Merkel's attempt to cobble together a government with two smaller parties failed, the SPD relented. "The Social Democratic Party has not made this decision easy".

In a bid to tamp down criticism, Merkel has brought one of her most outspoken CDU critics, Jens Spahn, into her next cabinet as health minister.

The members' support for the deal dropped compared to 2013, when 76% voted in favour.

"Merkel needs to appease a weakened and insecure SPD without alienating her own CDU/CSU too much", said Carsten Nickel, managing director at consultancy Teneo Intelligence.

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