Angela Merkel lands fourth term as SPD members back coalition

Germany ended months of political uncertainty Sunday when Chancellor Angela Merkel gained the support needed to preserve her governing coalition and secure a fourth term as leader of Europe's most powerful economy. But it is surely the beginning of the end.

The center-left Social Democrats had furiously debated whether to extend the so-called grand coalition for another four years after suffering a slump in last year's election. Many analysts here predict she will now be able to finish her fourth and final term as Chancellor without having to face challengers.

The SPD had been split between the party's leadership, which backed joining the coalition, and its radical youth wing, which did not.

"We now have clarity: the SPD will join the next German government", Scholz said.

German business greeted with relief the news that the country would get a government after its longest-ever post-election interregnum.


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

"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.

While the impasse in Berlin hasn't dented Germany's economic boom, it's held back policy making since Ms Merkel won a national election in September with her bloc's worst result since 1949.

Two in three of the SPD's rank-and-file voting in a make-or-break referendum backed a new partnership with Merkel's conservatives, heralding an end to the political stalemate that has plagued Europe's biggest economy since inconclusive elections in September past year. "The SPD will be in the next government", said SPD's caretaker chairman Olaf Scholz, adding his party plans to send three male and three female ministers to the cabinet.

Parliament is expected to re-elect Mrs Merkel as Chancellor next week. French President Macron's ambitions to reform the EU can not be achieved without the efforts from Germany and a government in Berlin highlighting European policies.


Kevin Kuehnert, head of the SPD's youth wing, said he was disappointed but that the "Jusos" (youth wing) would keep up their criticism, signaling that, after bringing in a flood of new members, they would be a thorn in the leadership's side. In a tweet, they labeled the SPD's decision a "catastrophe" for Germany, promising fierce opposition to the government. Turn-out in the poll was over 78 percent. Months of political wrangling (don't forget Mrs Merkel tried - and failed - to form a coalition with the Green and FDP parties) have done little to inspire confidence in Germany's established parties.

The Social Democrats have more than 463,000 members.

With Merkel's bloc and the second-place Social Democrats in government, the right-wing Alternative for Germany, or AfD, now represents the biggest opposition party in Parliament, giving it a prominent platform to attack the chancellor.

"While the United States are starting a trade war and China is challenge our industrial leadership, we have been unnecessarily self-absorbed", engineering trade union VDMA's managing director Thilo Brodtmann said.

"The SPD will enter the next government".


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