SPD's acting party Chairman Olaf Scholz said the coalition "gives us the strength for the process of renewal we are embarking upon".

The leaders of the SPD and Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc had reached a preliminary agreement on February 7 to form another "grand coalition" government, after a 136-day post-election stalemate.

Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance emerged as the largest bloc in the parliament following September's federal election, but they failed to secure an absolute majority.

Merkel, 63, is scheduled to be sworn in for her fourth term as chancellor on March 14.


The SPD's "green light" is a sign to stabilize the European Union after the Brexit.

Sunday's SPD vote result brought relief to German businesses and European capitals, which believe the euro zone would benefit from Merkel being able to partner with France on President Emmanuel Macron's ambitious plans to reform the single currency bloc. Two in three of the SPD's rank and file backed a new partnership with Merkel's conservatives, heralding an end to the political stalemate that has plagued Europe's biggest economy since September's inconclusive elections.

Its leaders have vowed to "hunt" Merkel, though so far AfD's novice lawmakers have stood out mainly by failing to grasp parliamentary procedures and putting forward motions all other parties reject.

In power since 2005, she has led Germany and the European Union through the financial and debt crises, but her waning authority at home could complicate efforts to deepen integration in the euro zone.


Senior conservative Jens Spahn, seen as one possible successor to Merkel, warned the SPD not to obstruct government policy in a re-run of the coalition that has ruled since 2013.

After talks between the FDP (liberal Free Democratic Party) and the CDU, the Green Party disbanded in November, which meant renewing the Grand Coalition (GroKo) was the only solution left for a multiparty. Immigration is expected to be a key issue in this fall's state election in Bavaria, where Merkel's allies fear the fallout from her open-door policies.

"I congratulate the SPD on this clear result and look forward to continuing to work together for the good of our country", she said on Twitter.

The newspaper Die Welt reported on Saturday that SPD member and Bundestag Vice President Thomas Opperman said the SPD should be more self-confident, cheeky and ready for conflict in the next coalition government. An anti-migrant party came in third in last year's election, upending Germany's traditional coalition calculus.


"In 2021 at the latest, they'll pay the price", AfD tweeted in a message that contained cartoons of Nahles and Merkel and the caption "four more nightmare years for Germany".

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