Germany: Merkel's fate hangs on outcome of membership vote


SPD leaders, who reversed a decision to go into opposition and are under pressure to rejuvenate their party after suffering their worst result in September's election since Germany became a federal republic in 1949, have vowed to fight the conservatives on major issues.

The voting members of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) made their voices heard and sided by a larger than expected margin to approve the new grand coalition government between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the SPD, ending a months-long gap in a proper government and avoiding the need for the country to hold new elections. With the party riven over its way forward, its leadership promised its more than 4,60,000 members the final say on any coalition deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested that Germany and France will soon press ahead with plans to harmonize aspects of their corporate tax regimes. "Germany will be ready for solidarity in the eurozone as well as in the European Union".

The euro zone's third biggest economy now faces a prolonged period of political instability after voters delivered a hung parliament, spurning traditional parties and flocking to anti-establishment and far-right groups in record numbers.

Members of Germany's Social Democratic Party have voted in favour of joining a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc.

The dissenters have campaigned against renewing that coalition, saying the Social Democrats lost public support while in partnership with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union.

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Both Merkel's conservatives and the centre-left SPD had taken a hammering at the ballot box as many Germans frustrated about the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers in Germany since 2015 voted for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

"France and Germany will work together in the coming weeks to develop new initiatives and advance the European project", Macron said in a statement.

Wary of ceding further ground to the far-right Islamophobic outfit as voters turn away from traditional parties, Merkel's conservatives and the SPD have inserted a clause to review their cooperation in two years. It also came after Martin Schulz was forced to hand over the reins as chief of the Social Democrat Party.

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.

Interim SPD leader Olaf Scholz said: "Now we have clarity".

Merkel also appreciates the importance of a future government for Europe. The Bundestag will then set a date for a vote on Merkel's candidacy, believed to be March 14. He has also advocated a sharp conservative shift in a bid to woo back voters from the AfD, which garnered almost 13 per cent in the September election.