German SPD members approve grand coalition with Merkel's conservatives
BERLIN - Reuters
PD's general secretary Andrea Nahles (L), SPD parliamentary group leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier (3rdL) applaud as German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel (C) delivers a statement after a vote-counting of the votes of Social Democratic Party (SPD) members in Berlin on Dec. 14. AFP photoGermany's Social Democrats (SPD) voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining a "grand coalition" with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats on Dec. 14, clearing the way for a new government to take office on Dec. 17.
The SPD said that 76 percent of its grassroots members who took part in a postal ballot voted in a referendum in favour of joining a right-left coalition with the conservatives.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), won the Sept. 22 election but fell short of a majority. They need a partner and spent much of the last three months negotiating a coalition agreement with the SPD, a distant second in September.
The leaders of the three parties will announce the 15 members of the cabinet on Dec. 15. The coalition agreement is due to be signed on Monday and Merkel's new government could be sworn into office on Dec. 17.