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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-14

Members of Germany’s main centre-left party have voted to form a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, clearing the way for Merkel to start her third term.

Two months after Merkel’s election victory and a month after coalition talks began, the vote by the nearly 475,000 members of the Social Democrats’ (SPD) will finally end the longest negotiations to form a new government in post-World War II Germany.

It sets the stage for Parliament to re-elect the conservative Merkel on Tuesday and will enable her to form a government by Christmas.

Merkel’s conservatives won the September 22 elections but fell short of a majority. Moreover, their previous pro-business coalition partners lost their parliamentary seats, forcing them to reach across the aisle for new allies.

The outcome of the ballot was far from certain, as many SPD members rejected the notion of their traditionally blue-collar party governing in the shadow of Merkel.

But SPD members warmed to the idea as the party scored several key victories in protracted negotiations including a minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.50) per hour from early 2015. The SPD also pushed through a demand for a 30% women’s quota on the boards of listed companies from 2016, and an easing of a ban on dual nationalities, a key demand of Germany’s large Turkish community, sources said.

Senior Social Democrat Barbara Hendricks said Saturday that three-quarters of the members who voted approved entering a “grand coalition” government of right and left.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)


Date created : 2013-12-14


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